EXAMINING THE EFFECTS OF HOPE AND FEAR APPEALS ON COGNITIVE PROCESSING
UNDERHILL, JILL CORNELIUS
TUNRER, MONIQUE M
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The potential of hope appeals as persuasive messages relative to other types of emotional appeals is unclear. Hope has been theorized to influence motivation, attitudes, and behaviors in meaningful ways; it is also believed to bias cognition toward goal achievement. Based on appraisal theories and the dual processing paradigm, a conceptual framework for how hope appeals could influence message processing, relative to fear appeals, was proffered. It was predicted that hope appeals would bias recipients, such that they would not pay close attention to the emotional appeal or recommendations that accompanied the appeal in order to maintain their positive mood. Fear appeal recipients were expected to counterargue the emotional appeal, but overestimate the quality of the accompanying recommendations. Emotional appeal type and recommendation quality were expected to interact to influence thought generation. Research questions addressing the influence of emotional appeals on recall were also investigated. A 3(Appeal: hope, fear, or rational) x 2(Recommendation Quality: low or high) x 2 (Source Quality: low or high) independent groups experiment was conducted. Overall, some support for the predictions was found. First, processing of the emotional appeal was examined. Hope appeal recipients generated more supportive thoughts and fewer counterarguments than fear appeal recipients. Processing of recommendations was then examined. Fear appeal recipients generated more supportive thoughts about recommendations than hope appeal recipients. Recommendation quality exerted a strong influence on thought generation. Recall of the recommendations and source was also examined. Hope appeal recipients recalled more recommendations than fear or rational appeal recipients. No interactions between emotional appeal type and recommendation quality emerged for the thought generation or recall measures. Theoretical and applied implications, as well as recommendations for future research, are discussed.