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Attention and Emotion

 

Explanations > Perception > Attention > Attention and Emotion

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

 

Description

To get attention, stimulate emotional arousal in the other person such that they feel compelled to attend to you. Two ways to do this are to create empathy or to provoke them into an emotional state that causes them to pay more attention to you.

Specific ways of doing this include:

  • Using emotionally-charged language, for example with extreme words such as 'hate', 'worst', 'forced' and so on.
  • Using images that arouse emotions such as pity, anger, fear and so on.
  • Playing the victim, showing how terrible things have happened to you.
  • Displaying strong emotion, for example by crying, being very angry, etc.
  • Directing your anger at them, forcing them to argue.
  • Doing things that you know will annoy them.
  • Describe how they are in imminent danger from something.

Example

A person accuses their spouse of not being helpful. This causes an emotional argument.

An artist creates an image that causes viewers to feel disgusted. This leads to a lot of press attention and debate about the meaning of art.

A child gets attention by being naughty.

Discussion

When emotion is aroused, reason tends to be suppressed as more primitive reactions are triggered. In this way, emotion can be used to get attention when asking would fail. In fact emotion is often a part of many different ways of gaining attention, even if it is not obvious, for example when you play to a person's interests or trigger their needs.

A classic way of creating emotion is either threatening them or otherwise showing that they are under threat from something else. This often provokes fear and a consequent fight-or-flight reaction. Sales people often get attention by creating desire, displaying and describing beautiful goods or suggesting that the products will confer status and make others envious.

A danger of emotional arousal and argument is that while it gains attention, it can result in each person focusing only on trying to get across their own viewpoint rather than listening carefully to the other person.

So what?

Understand how emotions are aroused and how this leads to attention, then deliberately evoke an emotional response. Be careful to ensure you get the response you want and that you get continued attention.

See also

Emotions, Histrionic Personality, Theories about emotion

 

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