Stepps (Emotion)

3. Emotion

Humans are social animals who love to share opinions, information, etc. Your tendency to gossip shapes your relationships with friends and colleagues. The Internet, via blogs, videos, etc, helps with this as an important communicating tool. However, there is a tsunami of information on the Internet. To navigate this challenge, start by checking out what others, especially those in your contact groups, are sharing. Obviously, the most shared have the potential to shape public opinions. As more people see and share information, the more influential it becomes, ie it can go viral.

The reasons people share information

- it is interesting (including innovations and discoveries)

- it is useful

- reflects positively on the person sharing

- creates 'awe' (awe is defined as

"...sense of wonder and amazement that occurs when someone is inspired by great knowledge, beauty, sublimity, or might..."
Dacher Keltner & Jonathan Haidt as quoted by
Jonah Berger, 2013

"...Awe expands one's frame of reference and drives self-transcendence. It encompasses admiration and a complex emotion and frequently invokes a sense of surprise, unexpectedness, or mystery..."
Jonah Berger, 2013

- experiencing emotion (it is thought that experience in any sort of emotion can encourage people to share, as talking to others makes the experiences better; sharing emotions helps us to connect, ie people feeling the same way helps deepen your social connections as it highlights our similarities and how much we have in common, ie

"...Emotional sharing is thus a bit like social glue, maintaining and strengthening relationships......the fact that we both feel the same way bonds us together..."
Jonah Berger, 2013

The more the emotions are pleasant and/or positive, the greater the impact; while negative emotions, like sadness, have decreased sharing. This is different from the conventional wisdom, ie

"...bad news generate more attention and interest than good news..."
Jonah Berger, 2013


"...people prefer sharing good news......Most of us prefer to make others feel happy or positive rather than anxious or sad......Positive things may be shared more because they reflect positively on the person doing the sharing......People share positive content and avoid sharing negative content..."
Jonah Berger, 2013

On the other hand, there is some evidence that information that evokes negative emotions, like anger or anxiety, is likely to be shared. Those emotions need to be further divided based on activation or psychological arousal, ie

"...Arousal is a state of activation and readiness for action. The heart beats faster and blood pressure rises.....motivates a fight-or-flight response that helps organisms catch food or flee from predators..."
Jonah Berger, 2013

Anger and anxiety are high-arousal emotions and similarly to positive emotions, like excitement, awe, etc, ie high arousal; conversely, emotions like contentment, sadness, etc is a low-arousal emotions, ie stifle action or deactivate. For example, when people are content, they relax.

Amusement, like humour, is a high-arousal emotion

It can be summarised in the below diagram

Emotion/Arousal High Arousal*i Low Arousal*ii
Positive Awe
Amusement (humour)
Negative Anger (mad)


i) increased sharing

ii) decreased sharing

There is a misconception

"...that if they just lay out the facts in a clear and concise way, it will tip the scales. The audience will pay attention, wavy information, and act accordingly..."
Jonah Berger, 2013

People need more than factual information to change. You need to focus on feelings, ie the underlying emotions that motivate people to actions.

It is visceral, ie it needs to move people and evoke their innermost feelings. It's got a make them laugh or cry, etc, ie create the emotional connection.

Emotional core

To find this, use the '3 whys':

- note why people are doing something

- then ask 3 times why is this important (this will drill down to both the core of the idea and the emotions behind it)

For example, online search:

"...Why online search is important? Because people want to find information quickly. Why do they want to do that? So that they can get answers to what they are looking. Why do I want these answers? So that they can connect with people, achieve their goals, and ful fill their dreams. Now they are starting to get more emotional..."
Jonah Berger, 2013

Another example is concerns global warming. Get past the key statistics and find out how to make people care, ie polar bears are dying, your children's health impacted, etc. When we care, we share.

"...on the positive side, excite people or inspire them by showing them how they can make a difference. On the negative side, make people mad, not sad...... get them fired up..."
Jonah Berger, 2013

Negative emotions can be just as powerful as positive ones in encouraging people to share.

NB Physical arousal (increased heartbeat, etc) from, for example, exercise, can have the same impact as emotional arousal, ie increased sharing of information, etc

Emotions drive people to action, ie

"...they make us laugh, shout, and cry, and they make us talk, share, and buy..."
Jonah Berger, 2013

In summary

- you need to focus on feelings (emotions) and less on functionality.

- you need to explore the right emotions (positive or negative) to evoke feeling and passion


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