Study: People Use Emotion To Persuade, Even When It Could Backfire

When you’re trying to get your way you likely use more emotional language, even if you’re not aware of it. Northwestern University showed over 1,200 online participants a photo and some relevant details for a particular product available on They asked some of the group to write a five-star review for the product that would persuade readers to purchase it, and asked others to write a five-star review that simply described the product’s positive features. The scientists then used a special tool to determine how emotional, positive, negative, and extreme the reviews were. They found participants used more emotional language when they were trying to persuade others to buy a product, compared when they simply wrote a more informative five-star review. The data showed people tended to use more emotional language automatically when they were supposed to be persuading someone else, even when they were told they were trying to sway a group of “rational” thinkers.