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The Role of Emotions in Persuasion

With persuasion, a person tries to convince another to change a targeted attitude. Can marketers change one's emotions and attitudes thus, persuading clients to buy?
Claudia Miclaus
Nowadays, persuasion is a weapon used by marketing masters. Because of capitalism and the new consuming trend, competition is what best describes today's society.
Everyone wants to sell their own ideas or products in the detriment of others. For this, they need to get to the public's mind through persuasion, and for this, they need the most reliable persuading means. Researchers have found that there is a connection between feelings and the changing of attitudes, knowing that attitudes determine the behavior.
Using emotions as a source of inducing persuasion is a very common strategy that has been recently studied by numerous scientists. In order to test the validity of this hypothesis, researchers started by manipulating situational variables.
This kind of manipulation includes injecting the subjects with different substances, such as epinephrine for negative feelings or endorphins for positive affects, creating a pleasant or an unpleasant environment around the subjects, or trying to persuade them after they have won or lost at a video game.
An alternative strategy to test this hypothesis is by directly focusing on the subject. This means that feelings are directly changed by the experimenter through hypnosis or by making the subjects focus on tragic or pleasant events in their life.
Regardless of how the adjusting of the emotional state takes place, the general conclusion of these tests is largely the same: the attitude of a person towards a chosen event tends to be more in favor of it if the person has a positive state of mind then if he has a negative state of mind.
Furthermore, other experiments sustain the idea that individuals who have positive feelings have the predisposition to use heuristic processing strategies, characterized by top-down processing, ignoring details.
On the other hand, individuals who are experiencing negative emotions have the tendency to do bottom-up systematic processing, with more focus on details.
This discovery has serious implications, because analyzing a product in detail makes it more difficult for a seller to persuade a client into buying it, whereas when you see the large picture and you don't pay attention to details it is easier for the seller to fill in some attractive information which will further contribute to the persuasion.
Nevertheless, emotions can be associated with trust or doubt. Some emotions, such as happiness, anger, or disgust can be associated with a feeling of understating, predictability, and safety. Other emotions, such as sadness, surprise, fear, or worry are associated with insecurity, and incapacity to comprehend properly.
It has been proven that joy, in contrast to sadness, can influence the trust in one's own thoughts and can lead to persuasion. In addition, when generated emotions are strong enough, the rational message added to the persuading process has a lower importance, and a lower impact on the client's mind.
The role of emotions in persuasion is easy to demonstrate because almost all kinds of advertisers take advantage of this connection. Some commercials have pleasant and soft background music, others use wonderful landscapes in order to catch the eye.
In many commercials, experts (dentists for example) are shown to generate the feeling of security and trust. The same strategy is used in stores and supermarkets, where nice music and nice sellers try to induce pleasant feelings.
The regular consumer might not observe all these, but research shows that a whole lot of money is invested in order to find out new connections between persuasion and cognitive or emotional factors and new means of advertising in order to persuade a larger group of people.
In conclusion, in a world of competition on every level, marketing is the place where persuasion plays an important role. The connection between the process of persuasion and emotions is now clear, and almost everyone tries to take advantage of it. Marketing masters can change the consumer's feelings by manipulating the environment.
All this might sound unfair, but the truth is that persuasion is not only used in the public domain, but also in daily life; for instance, when a child wants to convince his mother to do something, he firstly induces her a positive feeling by washing the dishes or taking the garbage out.