Emotional Persuasion: How To Influence With Emotions

Last updated on May 17th, 2024 at 03:01 am

Discover and unlock the secret of emotional persuasion and how to effectively influence others through the power of emotions and effective communication.

Emotional power has been a powerful tool in emotional persuasion for centuries and is still as effective today.

Whether it’s in marketing, politics, or everyday interactions, the ability to evoke powerful emotions can greatly influence people’s decisions and behaviors.

The use of emotional persuasion to get people to behave in specific ways often involves appealing to individuals’ values, beliefs and desires through emotional appeals like humor, fear, love, or anger.

By connecting with people on an emotional level, persuaders can create a sense of identity between themselves and their audience. This connection can create trust and empathetic understanding.

However, this tactic can also be dangerous if used manipulatively, such as targeting vulnerable individuals or using propaganda to push political or social agendas.

Understanding how emotional power is used for persuasion can help individuals become more aware of the techniques being used on them and make better-informed decisions.

Table of Contents

What is Emotional Persuasion?

A man persuasively convincing another man

Emotional persuasion is a strategy used to appeal to the emotions of an audience in order to convince them to take a desired action or support a particular stance.

This strategy often involves using language and images that evoke strong feelings and engage the audience on an emotional level.

Emotional persuasion can be used in various contexts, such as advertising, politics, and social causes, to inspire empathy, sympathy, fear, happiness, or other emotions that motivate people to act or believe in a certain way.

To be effective, emotional persuasion must connect with the audience’s values and beliefs, as well as their personal experiences.

It should also provide a clear call to action so that the audience knows what action to take next.

Emotional persuasion can be a powerful tool when used ethically and responsibly, but it can also be manipulative if it appeals to negative emotions or uses misleading information.

So, it is important to use emotional persuasion with care and consideration for the impact it may have on the audience.

Understanding the dynamics of emotions and the role they play in our decisions, behaviours, and experiences can hand one emotional power with which to navigate society.

When you know how people will behave when they are under the influence of a certain emotion, you can always use that knowledge as a tool to sway and get people to do your bidding.

Related: Understanding Emotional Intelligence

A lady using emotional persuasion on her colleagues

The Science Behind Emotional Power and Persuasion

Emotional power and persuasion are based on the neurological processes that occur in the brain when we experience certain emotions.

When we feel powerful emotions such as happiness, anger, fear, or sadness, our brain releases neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, or cortisol that affect our behavior and decision-making.

These emotions help us to frame our perception of the world and shape the values, beliefs, and attitudes we hold.

Related: How Emotions Shape Thoughts and Behaviours

As a result, emotions play a crucial role in the way we process information and make decisions, and that’s how emotional power is used for persuasion.

For example, positive emotions like joy or excitement can be used to create a sense of enthusiasm and excitement around an idea or product, making people more willing to engage with it.

Moreover, emotions like fear or anxiety can create a sense of urgency and need for change, motivating people to take action.

In addition to this, emotions can also be used to appeal to people’s values and beliefs, creating a sense of empathy and connection between the message and the audience.

This connection can even override people’s rational judgment and lead to more profound changes in attitudes and behavior.

The science behind emotional power and persuasion lies in our brain’s ability to process and respond to emotional stimuli, shaping our values, beliefs, and behaviors.

By tapping into people’s emotions and creating a sense of connection and urgency, we can persuade and influence them more effectively.

Importance of Emotional Power in Persuasion

A young man using emotional persuasion to convince a lady

Emotional persuasion is important because it taps into the feelings and motivations of people, allowing persuasive messages to sink and resonate on a deeper level.

While logic and rationality certainly have their place in persuasion, emotions often have a stronger impact on decision-making and behavior.

Here are some key reasons why emotional power is important in persuasion:

  • Human nature: Emotions are an integral part of human nature, influencing our thoughts, actions, and judgments. People are naturally inclined to make decisions based on how they feel, rather than purely logical reasoning. By appealing to emotions, persuasive messages can evoke a visceral response and forge a stronger connection with the audience.
  • Attention and memory: Emotional content tends to capture attention more effectively than neutral or factual information. When something resonates emotionally, it stands out in people’s minds and is more likely to be remembered. Persuasive messages that evoke emotions can create a lasting impression, making it more likely that the audience will recall and act upon the message later on.

Related: 10 Powerful Emotions Used in Persuasion

  • Motivation and action: Emotions are closely tied to motivation. When people feel emotionally engaged, it can drive them to take action and make decisions aligned with those emotions. By tapping into emotions like joy, fear, or empathy, persuasive messages can inspire people to support a cause, purchase a product, or change their behavior.
  • Overcoming resistance: Emotional appeals can be effective in overcoming resistance or skepticism. When people are presented with logical arguments that contradict their preexisting beliefs or attitudes, they often rely on emotional responses to defend their positions. By using emotional power, persuasive messages can soften resistance, challenge existing perceptions, and open up the possibility for change.
  • Building trust and rapport: Emotional power in persuasion helps build trust and rapport with the audience. When people feel a genuine emotional connection with the communicator, they are more likely to be receptive to their message.
  • Creating memorable experiences: Emotional persuasion allows for the creation of memorable experiences that leave a lasting impact. By appealing to emotions, persuasive messages can be crafted in a way that engages the audience on a personal level, making the experience more meaningful. These emotional experiences can shape attitudes and behaviors long after the initial interaction.

It is important to note that ethical persuasion should be based on genuine emotions and should avoid manipulation or exploitation.

By understanding and harnessing emotional power in persuasion, communicators can connect with their audience, inspire action, and promote positive change.

Also Read: 15 Phrases That Make You Emotionally Intelligent

The Influence of Emotional Responses on Decision-making

Effective communication appeals to the emotions as can be seen with this young man and woman

Emotional responses can influence how humans make decisions by impacting our perceptions, motivations, judgments, and reasoning.

It’s important to be aware of our emotional responses and how they may influence our decisions to make informed and rational choices.

When we experience emotions such as anger, fear, happiness, sadness, or disgust, they can impact our perceptions, thoughts, and behaviors.

I was taught right from time not to make decisions when angry or when under the influence of alcohol because such decisions might be flawed.

This is because we respond with a biased mind when in such situations.

The following are some ways that emotional responses can influence decision-making:

  1. Emotions may affect our perception of risks and benefits: When we experience emotions, they can influence how we perceive risk and the associated benefits of a decision. For example, if we are anxious or fearful, we may perceive a decision as riskier than if we were feeling more positive emotions, such as happiness or contentment.
  • Emotions can influence our intentions and motivation: Positive emotions such as happiness or excitement can motivate us to take action and pursue certain goals, while negative emotions such as fear or sadness can lead us to avoid certain situations or decisions.
  • Emotional states can bias our judgments and reasoning: When we experience strong emotions, they can affect our cognitive processes, leading to biases in our judgments and reasoning. For instance, if we are angry or frustrated, we may be more likely to engage in impulsive or aggressive behavior.
  • Emotional responses can impact our decision-making strategies: Emotional responses may also influence the strategies we use to make decisions. For example, when we are experiencing strong emotions, we may rely more on intuition, rather than careful reasoning, to make choices.

The Role of Emotional Power in Emotional Persuasion

Two people who are effective with emotional persuasion

Emotional persuasion plays a crucial role in convincing people because it creates a connection between the sender and the receiver.

Emotions, such as fear, anger, love, and happiness, can drive individuals to engage in specific actions or behaviors.

Advertisers use emotional power by appealing to specific needs or desires.

Political leaders also employ emotional power by tailoring their message to the emotions of their audience to increase the likelihood of their success.

By tapping into the emotional needs of the audience, an individual is more likely to persuade them to take a specific action or adopt a particular viewpoint.

Emotional power is particularly potent in persuasive communication because it can override logical arguments.

Here are ways this can be achieved:

Identification of Target Audience

The first step in the role of emotional power in persuasion is the identification of the target audience.

Understanding the audience’s emotional needs, desires, and beliefs will enable the speaker to use emotional appeal most effectively.

By identifying the target audience, the persuader can tailor their communication to address the specific emotions and motivations of that group.

This can include using language, images, and stories that evoke emotions such as fear, hope, joy, or anger.

For example, if the audience is composed of parents, an emotional appeal that tugs at their heartstrings for their children’s future will be more effective than a logical argument.

Related: How Emotional Intelligence and the Brain Relates

Similarly, understanding the target audience’s emotional triggers enables speakers to create messages that hit the mark and stir up a response.

The emotional power of this approach lies in the fact that people are more likely to be persuaded when they feel that the message speaks to them personally and addresses their concerns.

By appealing to the emotional needs of the audience, the persuader can create a connection with the audience that makes them more receptive to the message.

In other words, by understanding the emotional needs of the target audience, the persuader can tap into the emotions that are most likely to drive them to take action.

Ultimately, the identification of the target audience is a crucial step in creating persuasive communication that can lead to meaningful change.

Creation of Emotional Appeal

The second step in the role of emotional power in persuasion is the creation of an emotional appeal.

The creation of emotional appeal is a powerful tool in persuasive communication because it taps into the emotional responses of the target audience.

Emotional appeals are created by using language, images, and other forms of stimuli to evoke emotions such as love, fear, pity, anger, or excitement that can influence the target audience’s attitudes and behaviors.

Emotional appeals are often used in advertising and marketing to persuade consumers to buy products or services.

Advertisements often use images of happy families, cute pets, or scenic landscapes to evoke positive emotions and draw the viewer’s attention to the product being marketed.

Related: History Of Emotional Intelligence, And Frequently Asked Questions

Similarly, advertisements that use fear tactics to create a sense of urgency or to promote a sense of insecurity can also be highly effective in persuading people to take action or make choices that benefit the advertiser.

In political campaigns, emotional appeals are used to sway voters by tapping into emotions such as patriotism, fear of foreign threats, and a sense of trust and admiration for the candidate.

Political speeches often highlight stories of personal struggles, family hardships, and overcoming adversity to create a bond with the audience and foster empathy and understanding for the candidate.

Communication of Emotional Appeal

The third step in the role of emotional power in persuasion is the communication of emotional appeal.

Communication of Emotional Appeal refers to the use of emotions to persuade or convince an audience of a particular viewpoint or message. Emotional appeal is a powerful tool in persuasion because it connects with people’s deepest feelings and desires.

By communicating emotions such as fear, love, anger, or hope, persuasive messages can resonate deeply with listeners and prompt them to take particular actions or change their behavior.

For instance, the speaker’s tone, facial expressions, and body language should match the emotional appeal in order to enhance its impact.

Also, verbal cues such as repetition of keywords or phrases can also be used to emphasize the emotional appeal.

While emotional power can be used for both positive and negative reasons, ethical communicators use it to encourage positive change and build long-lasting relationships with their audience.

Also Read: The Importance Of Self-Awareness And Its Improvement

Reinforcement of Emotional Appeal

Reinforcement of Emotional Appeal refers to the use of emotional language and strong imagery to reinforce an already-established emotional connection between the audience and the message being presented.

This is an important role of emotional power in persuasion as it seeks to deepen the emotional bond between the message and the audience.

When a message contains strong emotional appeal, the audience is more likely to feel connected to it and be persuaded by it.

This connection can be reinforced through the use of emotional languages, such as powerful words and phrases, vivid imagery, and personal stories that tap into the audience’s emotions.

By doing so, the audience is reminded of the emotional connection they already have with the message and are more likely to act on it.

For example, when a charity organization uses emotional images and stories in their fundraising campaigns, they are reinforcing the emotional appeal of their cause.

The audience is already emotionally invested in the charity’s cause, and by using emotional language and imagery, the organization can reinforce this emotional bond and motivate the audience to donate.

Examples of How Emotional Power is Used For Emotional Persuasion

As we have gone through how emotional power is used for persuasion, here are a few applicable examples:

1. Political Campaigns

Emotional power is frequently used in political campaigns to persuade voters.

Candidates frequently use passionate speeches, emotional appeals to the audience’s aspirations and fears, and even jokes to engage and solicit an emotional response from the voters.

Emotional advertising, such as attack ads or advertisements portraying the positive aspects of a candidate’s life, is also frequently used in political campaigns.

2 Advertising

Emotional power is perhaps most prevalent within advertising.

Companies use emotional power to encourage people to form a positive emotional association with their brand.

Advertising may appeal to feelings of happiness, love, nostalgia, and other strong emotions to create a connection between the consumer and the brand.

3. Social Movements

Social movements, including protests, online and offline activism, and social media campaigns, frequently rely on emotional appeals to foster change.

They frequently use strong language to encourage individuals to get involved and take action.

4. Personal Relationships

Emotional power also plays a significant role in personal relationships, particularly in romantic relationships.

Emotions such as love, attraction, and affection may be used to persuade a person to take specific actions or to respond positively to a romantic partner.

Similarly, close friends or family members may use emotional appeals such as guilt or empathy to attempt to persuade their loved ones to take specific courses of action.

Disadvantages of Emotional Persuasion

While emotional persuasion can be a tool, it is important to recognize that it does have potential disadvantages in persuasion.

Here are a few drawbacks to consider:

1. Unintentionally Misleading

The use of emotional persuasion can often lead to unintentional misleading of individuals.

In an attempt to appeal to their emotions, individuals or organizations may exaggerate or manipulate facts to create a more emotional response.

This can result in the audience being misinformed leading to problems in the future.

Emotionally charged arguments can also lead people to make decisions based on their emotions rather than on logic and rationalisation.

2. Emotional Manipulation

The emotional power of persuasion can also be used for the manipulation of individuals.

Persuaders can use an individual’s emotions and vulnerabilities to manipulate them into making decisions that they may not have taken otherwise.

This can lead to individuals taking actions that are against their better judgment and ultimately lead to negative consequences.

3. Limited Critical Thinking

Strong emotional appeals can sometimes override critical thinking and rational decision-making.

When individuals are highly emotional, they may be more susceptible to making impulsive or irrational choices, without fully considering the logical consequences or alternatives.

This can lead to regret or poor decision-making in the long run.

4. Individual Differences in Emotional Responses

People differ in their emotional responses and what may elicit excitement or enthusiasm in one person might not have the same effect on another.

While emotions can be powerful, they are also subjective and vary from person to person.

Therefore, relying solely on emotional appeals may not resonate with everyone, potentially limiting the persuasive impact.

5. Lack of Credibility

An over-reliance on emotional appeals without sufficient evidence or logical reasoning can undermine the credibility of the persuader.

If emotions are used as the primary means of persuasion, without substantive supporting information, the audience may perceive the message as lacking in substance or credibility.

This can diminish the persuasive impact and lead to skepticism.

6. Short-lived Persuasion

Persuasion based on emotional power may be short-lived as it is based on the temporary emotions of the audience.

Once the particular emotion has subsided, it may be difficult to convince the audience to stick to their decisions.

In some cases, the audience may realise that they were swayed by their emotions and may choose to change their decisions if they weigh the facts again objectively.

Thus, the persuasive message may not have a lasting impact on the audience.


Understanding how emotional persuasion is used to motivate and change people’s behaviour is a crucial skill that can help convince individuals to act or think in a specific way.

It enables persuasive communicators to connect with their audiences and establish trust, empathy, and rapport.

Nonetheless, it’s crucial to use emotional power ethically and not manipulate individuals to suit one’s interests.

Communicators are responsible for ensuring that their use of emotional power is both fair and resonates with the intent of their messaging.

Finally, it’s recommended that individuals seeking to use emotional power for persuasion should focus on genuine communication based on truth, transparency, and empathy.

This will help in creating positive relationships with their audience and prevent any negative consequences that may arise from manipulative or unethical use of emotional power.


  1. How Is Emotional Appeal Used to Persuade?
  2. Why you need emotion to persuade
  3. Effects of Emotional Expressions on Persuasion

Pious Clements is the insightful voice behind "The Conducts of Life" blog, where he writes about life ethics, self-development, life mastery, and the dynamics of people and society.

With a profound understanding of human behaviuor and societal dynamics, Pious offers thought-provoking perspectives on ethical living and personal growth.
Through engaging narratives and astute observations, he inspires readers to navigate life's complexities with wisdom and integrity, encouraging a deeper understanding of the human experience and our place within society.