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  • Writer's pictureAtalbihari Baddar

Understanding Science of Emotions from a Marketer’s Point of View

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

If we look at the success stories of of Sonu Sood, BabaKaDhaba and Biryani, there is science of emotions working behind the scenes. This is something required to be analyzed and understood in detail from a marketer’s perspective.

Every marketer should have immense understanding of the science of emotion and what emotion can do for a marketer and a brand to build success stories.

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

To start with we need to understand why do we have emotions and from where do emotions generate. All we know is it is related with the limbic system inside the brain and level and volume of different neurotransmitters are related to different type of emotions.

In scientific terms, emotion can be looked as activate release of neurotransmitters as a reaction to a stimulus, where mood considered as a result of changing levels of such chemicals. Effectively, the stronger a person react to a stimulus, that results in release of more neurotransmitters and that makes our reaction louder.

As per a theory of emotion, our feelings can be categorized by high active (inspiring, motivational) or low active (gloomy, discouraging) emotions. A human brain can convey variety of emotions like respect, worship, creative, gratitude, delight, nervousness, fear, discomfort, dullness, quietness, puzzlement, desire, disgust, empathy, jealousy, excitement, horror, fun, musing, nostalgia, romance, sorrow, fulfillment, compassion to name a few.

As agreed by most researchers, emotional experience varies in terms of positivity, negativity and activation level. We can look at the basic dimensional model of ‘Russell’s Circumplex Model of Affect’ defined below.

Russell’s Circumplex Model of Affect - By Atalbihari Baddar & Shantanu Baddar
Russell’s Circumplex Model of Affect - By Atalbihari Baddar & Shantanu Baddar

This Circumplex model of affect can be used to explain the importance of emotions in any promotional communication design. We have represented the affective states and different moods in a Venn diagram based two-dimensional model. The vertical axis refers to the activation level and the horizontal axis represents the quality of the mood. The center represents a neutral state of emotions and activeness.

If you have observed, Positive affective states are in the right half of the diagram and negative affective states in the left half. The different combinations of activation levels and quality of mood generate variety of emotional states and moods which we have listed in the green bubbles.

For example, a combination of high activity and pleasant state generate Inspiration, energy and joy and a combination of low activity and pleasant state generates relaxation and satisfaction.

The high active arousal level dimension is related to our central nervous system, depicting how the autonomic nervous system is reacting and how active our body is. Increased active level reflects more active sympathetic nervous system. This results in increased heart rate and blood pressure making a person more alert. While in case the active arousal level is low, the parasympathetic nervous system becomes more active. These results in decrease of the heart rate and make a person feel calm and serene.

Panic and fear are result of high activity level and negative valence while cheerfulness as an opposite is result of high activity level and positive valence. If you have observed, such extreme opposite emotions has same high activity levels and similar high activity level and body language can be read either pleasant or unpleasant. This means the expected emotion as a result depends on the subject’s examination of the situation, stimulus, and related physiological action.

From our perspective, the key player here is the place, the content, the communication, the multimedia visuals that sets the mood of a consumer. It is in marketer’s hand to set it positive, inclining the consumer towards a preset goal.

From social media’s perspective, emotions in general are contagious. So when someone laughs, or share a joke with laughing smiley, we tend to laugh too. Similarly when you see someone suffer, you have an empathetic response to it.

Image by ParentiPacek from Pixabay

There are few thumb rules need to be considered while creating content strategy for a brand. First of all, positive and happy content gets shared quicker and to a large audience as against sad content. As a brand, you should use happiness, as it is an opportunity to infuse happiness among your fans and followers. Marketers need to know that bringing out a sense of awe turn people in to messengers; they love to share their story and experience with others in form of likes, comments, and shares spontaneously.

That feeling makes people feel small, connected, however powerful. Similarly, anger and fear are very strong emotions, so marketers should be very careful while triggering them or using them in communication.

An emotion like anger is very motivating and strongly negative. A marketer can release a product line allowing venting out anger for a social cause. Fear as an emotion can be used if a marketer’s communication or product line can come across as a solution from a particular fear. Similarly sadness can be used in a right way to create perceived impact. Emotions make all of us human; similarly brands which are expressing emotions can be seen positively and inspiring.

Now that we are aware of the science behind emotions works, we as a marketer need to understand that emotion has a huge effect on consumer’s motivation. The brands planning to develop communication on social platforms, television commercials or print advertisements need to use these understandings to amplify acquisition and retention.

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