Research & Insights

6 Ways To Use Emotion In Your Campaigns, According To Research

Communicators use emotions to reach, connect and engage with their audiences. When it comes to storytelling and messaging for social change, fear, humor and sadness can be especially effective if used properly.

Researchers from multiple disciplines are looking at the effectiveness of certain emotions in reaching and motivating audiences to take action. Over the last year we’ve compiled a variety of studies for frankology that show different ways emotions can be used to support change efforts. Check out these 6 findings on ways to use emotion in your work.


1) Anguish can be a good thing for a campaign, especially when people know they can take effective action on the problem.

A new study suggests that to get people to take action on climate change, frightening them a little can be a good thing. But to succeed, you also have to show people how they can fight back.

2) Fear of dying can make us more generous.

New research suggests that reminding people of their mortality makes them more generous.

3) Sadness can speak to the heart of your audience and motivate them to take action.

When it comes to encouraging people to get screened for cancer, research suggests that getting your audience to shed a few tears may be a good thing.

4) Compassion has some real benefits in getting people to think about their impact on the world.

New research brings some good news for environmental advocates: Boosting your audience’s compassion levels may increase their environmentalist tendencies.

5) Awe, the feelings of wonder, can make people kinder.

New research suggests that increasing pro-social behaviors like generosity may be as simple as reminding people that they are part of something larger than themselves.

6) Worry leads many parents to consider alternatives to vaccinations.

According to researchers, negative stories that evoke worry have a greater impact on parents’ perceptions of vaccine safety than do statistics.


Posted: August 13, 2015