Some research from Dr Robert Cialdini’s excellent Inside Influence Report for May 09 suggests that the emotional state of an audience affects how receptive they are to particular kinds of messages.

To save on processing effort and stave off information overload, our brains rely on simple rules or ‘heuristics’ to make decisions. Two of the heuristics that Cialdini identified in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion are social proof (“if many other people are doing it, maybe I should too”) and scarcity (“if it’s only available in limited amounts or for a limited time, I should grab it now”) were tested against the emotions of fear and romance.

Vladas Griskevicius from the University of Minnesota and a team including Cialdini showed their test subjects movies or gave them books to read that evoked feelings either of fear or romance, and then showed them ads with either a ‘social proof’ message or a ‘scarcity’ message.

They found that people in a state of fear are more receptive to social proof messages, while romance makes you more receptive to scarcity messages.

As they point out, this has implications for marketing – the ad or story that precedes your ad may impact its effectiveness; management – tailor the way you deliver your messages to the emotional state of your team; and sales – you might want to spend a few moments to evoke the emotional state most suited to your message.

Articles on Cialdini’s site don’t usually stick around for longer than a few months, so eventually this link will lead to another article about persuasion and influence. However, here is a link to the team’s original academic article about the research which will appear in The Journal of Marketing Research in June 2009: Fear and Loving In Las Vegas: Evolution, Emotion, and Persuasion 

Do you want to learn more secrets of influence and effective presentation? If you are already an NLP Practitioner, take our four-day Advanced Influencing Skills course this September. It’s part of our NLP Master Practitioner training in Manchester, or you can take it as a stand-alone module.

It’s the last one ever (because I’m moving out of running open NLP courses and into more corporate work), and there are only 16 places on the course, some of which have gone already. (See how I’ve used the Scarcity principle there? It really is your last chance to do this course though.)

Contact me on 07967 591 313 or if you want to know more.


Emotional states affect the impact of messages

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