There are ways to appeal to emotions without being seen as manipulative.
Once you have cooled down your language, we recommend three strategies for emotional appeals:
- Format messages as questions: even obviously rhetorical questions were met more favorably by our participants than emotionally prescriptive statements. Questions leave room for the audience to make their own connections and reach their own conclusions.
- Let pictures do the talking: images are a great way to make an emotional connection, but even images can be seen as emotionally manipulative, especially images of slaughter. Cute, thriving animals, as well as images of animals after slaughter but while their bodies are still identifiable, make an emotional connection without provoking defensiveness.
- Explicitly argue for emotions as data. The issue of animal suffering is inherently emotional. We can state that explicitly, such as in this effective message:
If you have an emotional reaction to seeing footage of animals suffering inside slaughterhouses, that's a good sign that you're a human being. Feeling anguish about what these animals go through, that's useful information. We should listen to that.