Using Emotion to Persuade

By Alex Newbern and Gunther Gallagher

Stop Animal Cruelty


Heuristics is another word for emotional shortcuts. "Emotions sometimes act as heuristics, helping us to quickly determine our attitude." What this means is that when we are unaware of our surroundings or asked about something that we know nothing about, we answer with what we feel better about. In the world of business, heuristics are used in stores to make us buy products we are unsure about. If we go into a store, and look at one item and hear a song that we like, we are more likely to buy that item, because it made us feel good.

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Question time

Which emotion do you believe is best when it comes to selling a product? Think back to famous commercials.

Fear Appeal

Fear appeal is the act of changing ones attitude using fear. The idea of the fear appeal is very tricky since there are some guidelines to go with it. For a fear appeal to be successful, it most be provoke a moderate amount of fear, so as to gain your attention without so much fear as for you to tune it out, and it must provide some information on how to fix the problem that is causing the fear, if their is no information people will tune it out as well because they don't know any solution. Take smoking for example, in the 1960s scientists took three groups of smokers and made the first film watch a graphic film about lung cancer then gave them a pamphlet on how to quit. The second group got the film and the third got just the pamphlet. The first group the highest amount of smokers who quit over the other two groups because they provided them with enough fear to grab their attention and then gave them information on how to fix it.

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Question Time

Which ad do you think is more effective at what it is meant to do, the Humane Society ad or they pictures on the sides of the cigarette in England?