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Do People Buy Based on Emotion or Logic?

September 26th, 2005 by Bob Bly

A new study from the University of Texas, reported in NewScientist (9/17/05, p. 13), indicates that emotion may actually play a role in helping people remember factual information.

In the study, 57 volunteers were shown a disturbing film about a surgical procedure, then asked questions about their emotional state and their memory of events in the film.

Researchers found that subjects who made the most effort to keep their emotions in check had the worst recall for what they had seen.

By logical extension, sales copy that stimulates an emotional response should also translate into better recall of product facts and sales arguments.

In that way, emotion helps logic sell.


This entry was posted on Monday, September 26th, 2005 at 11:48 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

88 responses about “Do People Buy Based on Emotion or Logic?”

  1. Marketing Masters\' Observation Journal said:
    Make A Contribution To Science
    While university studies are great – and I’m glad to have all the data possible – another sure fire way to prove this theory is to split test a mailing. Send half the list a logical argument and the other half an emotional appeal. See what you get.

  2. Marketing Masters\' Observation Journal said:
    Make A Contribution To Science
    While university studies are great – and I’m glad to have all the data possible – another sure fire way to prove this theory is to split test a mailing. Send half the list a logical argument and the other half an emotional appeal. See what you get.

  3. Phil Dunn said:

    Emotion tends to cut both ways. Events that are associated with positive emotion are readily recalled. Those associated with negative emotion are easily forgotten. Maybe they’re repressed or there’s some kind of denial going on. But, the brain’s power to forget is equally impressive as the power to recall. I’m not sure how this fits in with a surgical procedure, however.

  4. John Jantsch said:

    Bob, Duh, all copywriters have is emotion.

    You will look hot in this new shirt and what the heck, it’s on sale.

  5. Bob Bly said:

    John: To say that emotion is the copywriter’s ONLY tool is wrong. Did you base your choice of who hosts your Web site solely on emotion? I doubt it.

  6. Bruce DeBoer said:

    Everyone responds differently but I’d rather market based on WANT rather than NEED. Need is buying car repair. Want it buying that new car you’ve had your eye on. Want is emotional – need is logical.

    Make your connection emotional and you’ll gain permission to speak logically with your customer.

  7. Jason said:

    All sale major peices I beleive are driven by by emotion. Now logic 99 times out of 100 justifies the decision that the emotion has made. And think about the final thing you say inside right before you hand that money over. I’ll almost guarantee it’s a feeling that this is a good idea.


  8. BZ Riger-Hull said:

    I think people do buy based on emotion. They are attracted to your product or service, your company- and want to feel like you understand what they are looking for. If they feel that they will keep reading, but they will also look for reassurance in the logic of your message to support their emotional decision to buy.

  9. James said:

    People buy predominantly on emotion…period. then they justify their purchase with logic but that’s after they’ve already made the purchase.

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