Affect and persuasion: Emotional responses to public service announcements

James Price Dillard, Eugenia Peck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

296 Scopus citations


An experiment was designed to examine the role of emotion in persuasion. In this study, 140 undergraduates viewed eight public service announcements (PSAs) and then reported on their cognitive, emotional, and attitudinal responses to each. Some participants were instructed to attend to their feelings and use them in evaluating the PSAs (heuristic-enabled condition), whereas others were told to dampen their feelings and not let their emotions influence their judgments of the PSAs (heuristic-disabled condition). After controlling for cognition, the data showed a unique and separate effect for each emotion on perceived message effectiveness. However, the manipulations produced no observable effect on the magnitude of association between emotion and perceived effectiveness. Effects of both emotion and cognition on attitude toward the issue were mediated by perceived message effectiveness. A second study showed that perceived effectiveness and liking for the message are distinct judgments. Effectiveness is the preferred measure for studying PSAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)461-495
Number of pages35
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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