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Essay/Term paper: Emotional and rational appeals

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Society Term Papers

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Emotional and Rational Appeals


In many studies, data has been led to suggest that rational messages may
encourage the generation of content based cognitive responses and lead to
attitudes heavily influenced by these cognitions. Studies have also led to
suggest that people in negative moods are affected by the quality of persuasive
messages. Using manipulations techniques, bad mood may result in a different
interpretation of anything from a verbal argument to a literal message. Even
though most studies indicate that good mood manipulations may not have that much
effect on one's perception of a scenario, further investigation may do away with
that theory.

Persuasion in Response to Emotional and Rational Appeals

Much research has been done to try and indicate that emotional appeals
may influence attitude change. The other side of looking at the spectrum is that
rational appeals may do likewise (e.g., Rosselli; Francine; Skelly, John J.;
Mackie, Diane M, 1995). In one study conducted at the University of California
at Santa Barbara, 184 students received partial course credit in return for
their participation. Subjects in the experiment were assigned to the cells of a
2(positive or neutral mood) x 2(emotional or rational message type) x 2(strong
or weak argument quality). Subjects were in groups of two to six.
After this step was established, eight messages in approximately equal
length were developed. Each message contained six arguments that were either in
favor or against using animals for research purposes. Rational and emotional
were used in nature and strong and weak were used in quality. In the procedure
of the experiment, subjects participated in an experimental session that
included several tasks that were not directly related to the study. The first
test included a survey of the subjects' attitudes toward animal testing. After
this was completed, subjects read a persuasive message, then responded to
questions concerning the topic of animal research, and finally completed items
designed to check the effectiveness of the manipulations.
After checking the analysis, indications showed that there was no
effects for gender. To add to this, responses to all manipulation check measures
were entered into one of four separate groups between subjects analyses of
variance (ANOVAs). When looking at the message type, the data had revealed the
expected main effect for message type, F(1, 65) = 33.44. p <.0001. Also as
expected, the subjects that were exposed to emotional arguments correctly perceived
them to be emotional arguments while subjects that were exposed to rational
arguments perceived them to be rational arguments. A surprising part of the data
was that a lot of the subjects favored animal testing over animal experimentation.
The dependent measure of the study was attitude change. The dependent measure also
showed a great effect on the data and was a major factor. In the overall view,
subjects displayed a significant attitude change after exposure to the messages.
In discussion of this study, the clear goal of it was to investigate attitude
change that occurs in response to emotional appeals. In more specific terms, the
experimenters attempted to examine if emotional or rational appeals produce
attitude change. With a small hint of foreshadowing, we will see how the
experimenter that is proposing will use a variation of this technique by turning
the variables around. In conclusion, the results of this experiment show that
presenting subjects with rational messages may encourage cognitive responses (as
was expected). Emotional appeals seem to indicate that there is potential for
encouraging self-centered, or distinct evaluative techniques. To push this even
further, results provide more evidence that responses to a persuasive message
indicate attitude change. As for the benefit of this study, it is suggested that
there should more use of affective responses. This could help improve the
understanding of persuasive methods. In other recent studies, it was found that
subjects' processing of persuasive communications depends on their affective
state at the time. Predictions for this experiment were that people in neutral
or negative moods are affected by the quality of the persuasive message and
report more acceptable attitudes after being shown strong arguments rather than
weak arguments. Seventy-six students at the University of Heidelberg in Germany
received DM10 (about 5$ at the beginning of the experiment) for their
participation in the experiment. Subjects were run in groups of 3 to 6 and were
randomly assigned to the conditions of a 2(positive or negative mood) x 2(strong
or weak arguments) x 2(mood induced at encoding of judgments) factorial design.
Students were informed of the intent of various tasks they would be
performing. Tasks included mood induction, the presentation of the persuasive
message, and the neutral filler task.


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