Special Session Summary Discrete Emotions and Coping Strategies: Implications For Persuasion, Behavior, and Public Policy

Mary Frances Luce, University of Pennsylvania
[ to cite ]:
Mary Frances Luce (2001) ,"Special Session Summary Discrete Emotions and Coping Strategies: Implications For Persuasion, Behavior, and Public Policy", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, eds. Mary C. Gilly and Joan Meyers-Levy, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 437.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, 2001     Page 437

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

DISCRETE EMOTIONS AND COPING STRATEGIES: IMPLICATIONS FOR PERSUASION, BEHAVIOR, AND PUBLIC POLICY

Mary Frances Luce, University of Pennsylvania

SESSION OVERVIEW

This special session investigated the impact of different negative emotions in a variety of consumption situations. Although, in recent years there has been an increasing attention to the impact of arousal and affect on consumer behavior, very little research has addressed how distinct negative emotions differentially impact behaviors. This session investigated a variety of negative emotions (fear, disappointment, anger, guilt, etc.) and their impact on how consumers’ cope in stressful purchase situations, respond to persuasion, as well as the differential impact of these distinct emotions on purchase intentions and behaviors.

 

"HOW CONSUMERS COPE WITH NEGATIVE EMOTIONS"

Sunghwan Yi and Hans Baumgartner, Penn State University

In the first presentation, Sunghwan Yi and Hans Baumgartner investigated a broad range of negative emotions associated with stressful purchase-related situations. Although coping has been a key construct in recent psychological research on emotions, little research is available on how consumers deal with stressful emotional experiences. This multi-stage study first examined the range of strategies consumers use to cope with negative emotions and stressful events. The study constructed a scale of consumer coping strategies, and identified eight distinct types of coping strategies, such as planful problem-solving, seeking social support, confrontive coping, acceptance, positive reinterpretation, self control, mental distancing, and behavioral distancing. It then looked for systematic links between specific coping strategies and six different negative emotions, such as anxiety/worry, disappointment, regret, sadness, guilt, and anger. Finally, it investigated how the use of particular coping strategies improves or deteriorates a person’s subsequent eotional state. The study has implications for researchers interested in the psychological processes associated with different negative emotions, and it focuses attention on how consumers cope with stressful events and how the use of different coping strategies influences the evolution of emotional experiences.

 

"DIFFERENTIATED FEAR APPEALS"

Kirsten Grasshoff and Mita Sujan, Penn State University

In the second presentation, Kirsten Grasshoff and Mita Sujan examined the impact of differentiated fear appeals on persuasion. This study examined four differentiated emotions (fear alone vs. fear coupled with guilt, challenge or hope) and their impact on cognitions, coping strategies, persuasion and behaviors with respect to receiving a vaccination. The results indicated that the appraisal of personal accountability, rather than valence, is important for persuasion. Thus, guilt (negative) and challenge (positive), both of which are high in accountability, enhance persuasion relative to the two low accountability emotions, fear (negative) and hope (positive). More importantly, actual behaviors (getting vaccinated) are consistent with these appraisal differences. These findings have relevance for both academics and practitioners interested in how discrete emotions impact persuasion and behaviors.

 

"EMOTIONAL ANTECEDENTS OF PROTECTION MOTIVATION"

Punam Anand Keller, Ardis Olson, and Deborah Shields, Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center

In the final presentation, Punam Keller, Ardis Olson, and Deborah Shields investigated the practical implications of two negative emotions, fear and dejection, in terms of multiple preventative behaviors in such domains as solar protection, nutrition, exercise and bike helmet usage. This study extends current emotion research and health behavior models by conceptually and empirically supporting the role of negative emotions in health cognitions and preventative behaviors. The results indicated that dejection and fear increase vulnerability, and dejection reduces responsiveness to the appeal and also dampens self-efficacy. Furthermore, dejection reduces preventative behavior, whereas fear increases preventative behavior. These findings have implications for researchers, practitioners and public policy makers interested in understanding the link between emotions, cognition and preventative behavior.

 

DISCUSSION

Julie Edell, Duke University

The discussion leader summarized the presentations and linked how emotions, similar and different across the three studies, had similar versus distinct impact on the range of dependent measures studied by either drawing consumers towards certain (positive) behaviors and coping or by pushing them towards more negative responses. The format was then opened to address questions from the audience. Three presentations share a rising interest in the role of coping in consumer emotional processes: how consumers deal with their emotions and the behaviors they thus enact.

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