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emotional appeal


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In persuasive communication such as advertising and political communication, rhetorical strategies intended to evoke feelings in the audience. This can include the use of humour or nostalgia, the evocation of personal pride, love for one's family and children, patriotism, and even sexual arousal. Such ‘positive’ emotional appeals are deployed in order to develop bonding between the audience and a brand, individual, or political party. However, emotional appeals may be negative as well as positive: they include fear appeals and guilt appeals. Shock tactics are often employed in health and safety campaigns. Emotional appeals in audio-visual media are based primarily on visual imagery, connotation, and music rather than information or argument (see also peripheral route). Advertisers' choices between emotional and rational appeals are influenced by whether the product or service is seen as being likely to entail high or low affective or cognitive involvement (see also Elaboration Likelihood Model). Bread, for instance, may be seen as involving high affective involvement but low cognitive involvement, and advertisers may choose to employ emotional appeals (such as the appeal to nostalgia in Hovis ads). See also affective communication; high and low involvement; personalized format; soft sell.

Subjects: Media Studies.


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