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Anger More Effective in Anti-Smoking Ads

Update Date: Apr 29, 2014 09:02 PM EDT
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Anger may be more effective than sadness when it comes to persuasive anti-smoking commercials. New research from researchers at Dartmouth and Cornell University said that the latest findings suggest that anti-smoking advertisements should appeal to viewers' anger rather than sorrow.

Previous research reveals that emotional expression is paramount when it comes to persuasion, and that people's perceptions of emotions affect their attitudes and behaviors.

Other studies have also found evidence that anti-smoking TV advertisements that express negative emotions such as anger and sadness are more effective than objective approaches.

Researchers in the study looked at how viewers process those negative emotions. Researchers created anti-smoking TV commercials in which an actor conveyed anti-tobacco messages to 115 college students with either anger or sadness by using different vocal tones and facial expressions. Researchers manipulated the actor's expressed emotions while keeping the story the same.

The findings revealed that ads where the actor depicted anger was more effective because speakers were perceived as more powerful and dominant. This effect increased the anti-smoking attitudes and predicted strong intentions to stay away from tobacco.

While participants who watched the anger-framed message were less likely to like or sympathize with the actor, researchers said those factors were irrelevant when it came to avoiding tobacco.

The findings are published in the Journal of Health Communication.

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