Fear and Loving in Las Vegas: When Fundamental Motives Lead Basic Persuasion Heuristics to Backfire

Vladas Griskevicius, Arizona State University
Noah Goldstein, University of Chicago
Chad Mortensen, Arizona State University
Jill Sundie, Robert Cialdini, Douglas Kenrick, University of Houston, Arizona State University, Arizona State University
How are persuasion heuristics influenced by arousal-inducing contexts such as TV programs? A general arousal model predicts similar effects for all arousing content; an affect model predicts opposite effects for content eliciting positive versus negative affect; a functional evolutionary model predicts specific effects for content related to particular arousal-inducing motives. Three experiments examined how viewing fear-inducing or romantic content influenced the effectiveness of two common persuasion heuristics—scarcity (e.g., “last chance to buy”) and social proof (e.g., “most popular”). Results supported predictions from a functional evolutionary model, whereby fear-inducing content led social proof appeals to be counter-persuasive, and romantic content led scarcity appeals to be counter-persuasive.
[ to cite ]:
Vladas Griskevicius, Noah Goldstein, Chad Mortensen, and Jill Sundie, Robert Cialdini, Douglas Kenrick (2008) ,"Fear and Loving in Las Vegas: When Fundamental Motives Lead Basic Persuasion Heuristics to Backfire", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 181-184.