English Composition


An emotional appeal is a method which is undertaken by various organisations or agencies which aims at gathering an emotional response from the audience. Its main agenda is to persuade people through emotions (Lee and Hong, 2016). The following assignment is based on recognising emotional appeals in an argument, discussion of effect of emotional appeals and creation of emotional appeals.

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Case 1: George Bush 1988 campaign against Michael Dukakis

There was a widely popular advertisement back in 1988 which was a part of George Bush’s Presidential Campaign where he used an approach to create a negative emotional appeal against another candidate Michael Dukakis.

Recognition of Emotional Appeals in the Argument

The argument in question is that if Michael Dukakis gets the president ship for America, its safety standards would be compromised, seeing his claims of bringing same policies for America like that of Massachusetts (Prison Furloughs in Massachusetts Threaten Dukakis Record on Crime,2019). This created quite a hype within the citizens and presidential campaigns of both the parties strained on these policies. While Michael Dukakis presented his views on how his strategies could possibly bring positive changes within the structure of the country, George Bush used emotional campaigns against his competitor describing and emphasising on what dangers would he led America by implementing Furlough Policy and vetoing other crucial aspects like death penalties. Moreover, his advertising campaigns described the after effects of those policies by Michael Dukakis in Massachusetts by giving more or less the exact headcount of the prisoners escaped and how many were further charged with other crimes like rape and theft.

Effect of Emotional Appeals

The agenda of developing such advertisement was to create an emotional appeal where people analyse the whole situation through its concrete facts and choose the best candidate among the existing ones (Geuens, De Pelsmacker and Faseur, 2011). Appeal was made regarding the safety of whole nation which could have been compromised if Michael Dukakis won the elections. However, George Bush used emotions like fear and rage to appeal to people to vote for him. Apart from other campaigns, this too saw its light in the day and had a massive effect on the elections. As a result of this appeal among others, George Bush won the presidential elections of 1988. This campaign had a major impact on the people of America which resulted them choosing him against Michael Dukakis.

Emotional Appeal

According to my opinion, emotions could really have an impact on a certain appeal. As in this case, creating campaigns which uses strong emotions like fear could widely create impacts on an appeal. Each individual is entitled to justice. The Furloughs policy by Michael Dukakis ensured furloughs for even those criminals who were not even entitled to paroles. These included dangerous men like drug dealers and other dangerous criminals. Giving furloughs to such criminals would be unfair and unjust for their victim and their families. In addition, with giving them open grounds again, it would be putting lives of hundreds in danger. Various innocent individuals fell victim for the crimes committed by these criminals while on furlough and having such irrelevant policies could compromise the safety standards of the whole country. Choice of leaders must be the one who keeps their country forward and puts their safety at utmost priority. In additions, policies made by those must focus on valuable benefits to individuals, societies and to their whole country.

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Case 2: Ronald Reagan Presidential Campaign 1984

Another example of emotional appeal in contrast with the previous one was the presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan in 1984. America was too a struggling nation like every other in this world and it was important to make people aware of the hope and optimism which lies ahead for them in time. Ronald Reagan effectively focused on these two aspects while bringing out his presidential campaign in front of people.

Recognition of Emotional Appeals in the Argument

Ronald Reagan won the presidential elections in 1980 and since then, the country witnessed prosperous growth in their structure and standard of living. Before 1980, America too was suffering from issues of poverty, unemployment and inflation. The argument which rose with the commercial campaigns of Ronald Reagan was to encourage people to choose him again as their leader to face further prosperity in their lives and appropriate standard of living (Lang and Yegiyan, 2008). In addition, he used comparative approach in his campaigns where he effectively compared four years of his term. The emotions he used in the appeal were positive yet strong where the campaigns mentioned how issues that America had been suffering from are witnessing certain downfalls after Reagan’s leadership. To further enhance the emotional appeal, the campaigns used the phrase,” It’s morning again in America!”. Furthermore, the campaign took a certain day and brought up prosperous aspects like number of marriages, number of jobs, number of households, etc., all in comparison with the standard of the country before 1980.

Effect of Emotional Appeals

The idea behind bringing up these issues and using them as a part of a presidential campaigns was to appropriately examine and outweigh positive results from his previous term. Such campaigns were successful in developing a feeling of optimism and utmost faith in the government and the leader among the citizens. In addition to this, it also was successful in making a lasting impression on the people of America as a result to which, Ronald Reagan was again voted as the president of the United States. The effect of these emotional appeals was quite strong and appropriately caused an attachment among the people of America with Ronald Reagan. It is thus, an example of emotional appeals used the most effective way which results in building up trust in the citizens with the current government.

Emotional Appeal

With great connection, emotional appeals must also have effective influencing power. As in this campaign, this power was rightfully channelized. Leadership must be the one which reflects on the shortcomings of a nation with a promise of a better tomorrow. Moreover, achievement by a leader must be recognised well within the country. They must bring positivity in the country and must bring utmost optimism where people witness opportunities and welfare lied in front of them. Ronald Reagan surely brought some very appealing policies which helped the country survive against many of its issues like unemployment and poverty. Moreover, some of its policies were so effective that they effectively marked themselves in the history of United States.

Emotional Appeals could create appropriate and effective influence which could help agencies, organisations as well as individuals in encouraging people of choosing their policies over others. However, emotional appeals must target right emotions effectively and appropriately to enhance scope of its success (Septianto and Pratiwi, 2016).

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It is thus concluded that Emotional Appeals are effective in persuading people and encourage them to effectively follow and choose others. Various emotions could be targeted by these appeals which could influence individuals quite effectively. It is necessary to point out the emotions from the arguments and is also imperative to determine effect of these appeals to further evaluate its success. Thus, it is an imperative practice and must be used appropriately for ensuring long term success.

You may also like to read: Unit 8 Understanding Self and Others Level 4


Books and Journals

  • Geuens, M., De Pelsmacker, P. and Faseur, T., 2011. Emotional advertising: Revisiting the role of product category. Journal of Business Research. 64(4). pp.418-426.
  • Lang, A. and Yegiyan, N.S., 2008. Understanding the interactive effects of emotional appeal and claim strength in health messages. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. 52(3). pp.432-447.
  • Lee, J. and Hong, I.B., 2016. Predicting positive user responses to social media advertising: The roles of emotional appeal, informativeness, and creativity. International Journal of Information Management. 36(3). pp.360-373.
  • Septianto, F. and Pratiwi, L., 2016. The moderating role of construal level on the evaluation of emotional appeal vs. cognitive appeal advertisements. Marketing Letters. 27(1). pp.171-181.
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