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How Is Emotional Appeal Used to Persuade?

How Is Emotional Appeal Used to Persuade?

by George Boykin; Updated February 12, 2019

How Is Emotional Appeal Used to Persuade?

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Anyone who has ever seen some nifty, new product, said to themselves “Oooh! I have to have that,” and then bought it on impulse knows the power of emotions in influencing our decisions. Marketers make effective use of this; using emotional appeal to sell products has been taught in sales-training seminars for decades. It is useful, however, to explore why people tend to buy with their hearts and rationalize with their heads. This will assist in a better understanding of how emotional appeal is used to persuade.

Employing Persuasion Techniques

There are basically two ways to persuade: rational persuasion and emotional persuasion. Rational persuasion employs logical arguments and believable evidence. Rational persuasion requires that the target or audience make an active effort in receiving and evaluating the information. The conscious minds must be engaged and the audience must be sufficiently motivated to process the information.

Emotional persuasion relies on the subconscious mind’s “auto-pilot” to handle the chores of receiving, processing and evaluating information to make a decision. However, the subconscious mind is clueless about processing and evaluating information based on conscious thought. Consequently, emotions and instincts, which reside in the subconscious, kick in as the auto-pilot substitute for conscious thought. In other words, when decisions are made at the subconscious level, they are based on emotions and instincts, or “gut feeling.”

Why Emotional Appeals Work

Thinking is a laborious task. Experts in neuroscience say that the mere act of thinking burns three times more calories than a less-challenging task like watching TV. The experts also note that the human brain runs on idle in a non-thinking state 95 percent of the time. Marketers clearly don’t bet their budgets on consumers being asleep at the switch 95 percent of the time. The stats strongly suggest, however, that people are more susceptible to emotional appeals because their brains are in an idle, subliminal state most of the time.

Standing Out Amongst the Clutter

The Advertising Education Foundation lends authority to the importance of emotional appeals by calling attention to the fact that the average person is exposed to more than 3,000 ads per day. It would be impossible to process the content of these ads with the conscious mind even if the brain was actively engaged 24/7.