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Persuasion Through Emotion? An Experimental Test of the Emotion-Eliciting Nature of Populist Communication


Wirz, Dominique (2018). Persuasion Through Emotion? An Experimental Test of the Emotion-Eliciting Nature of Populist Communication. International Journal of Communication, 12:1114-1138.

Abstract

Populist parties have been extremely successful in recent years. It is often argued that their focus on emotion-eliciting appeals instead of rational arguments contributes to this success; however, there is a lack of empirical evidence to support this assumption. The objective of this article is to test whether populist appeals do indeed elicit emotions and whether this increases the persuasiveness of the appeals. An experiment was conducted (N = 580) comparing populist and nonpopulist appeals on political advertising posters. The results show that populist appeals elicit stronger emotions than nonpopulist appeals and that these emotions mediate the persuasiveness of the appeals. The widespread assumption that populist appeals are persuasive because they are inherently emotional is thus supported. This finding helps to explain the success of parties that make use of such populist messages.

Abstract

Populist parties have been extremely successful in recent years. It is often argued that their focus on emotion-eliciting appeals instead of rational arguments contributes to this success; however, there is a lack of empirical evidence to support this assumption. The objective of this article is to test whether populist appeals do indeed elicit emotions and whether this increases the persuasiveness of the appeals. An experiment was conducted (N = 580) comparing populist and nonpopulist appeals on political advertising posters. The results show that populist appeals elicit stronger emotions than nonpopulist appeals and that these emotions mediate the persuasiveness of the appeals. The widespread assumption that populist appeals are persuasive because they are inherently emotional is thus supported. This finding helps to explain the success of parties that make use of such populist messages.

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89 citations in Web of Science®
108 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:070 News media, journalism & publishing
Uncontrolled Keywords:Populism, persuasion, emotions, core relational themes, multimessage design
Language:English
Date:28 February 2018
Deposited On:07 Mar 2018 10:28
Last Modified:24 Feb 2024 04:45
Publisher:University of Southern California
ISSN:1932-8036
Funders:SNF
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/7846/2287
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project TitleSNF
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)