Beyond affective valence : the effect of different emotions on cognitive processing and persuasion from a certainty-congruent approach
This research investigates the role of emotion in the persuasion process by establishing a novel relationship between emotion and construal level. Built on cognitive appraisal theories, this research proposes that the certainty appraisal components of emotions exert a direct influence on an individual’s representation of information at a high versus low construal level. The findings indicate that individuals primed to feel emotion low on certainty appraisals construe behaviors or events at a high level and estimate uncertain events as more likely to happen, while those primed to feel emotion high on certainty appraisals characterize behavior or events at a low level and evaluate uncertain events as less likely to occur (Study 1 & Study 2). Further, such a fit (vs. nonfit) between an individual’s emotional state and the construal level at which product benefits in an advertising message are represented lead to a more favorable evaluation of the message and product (Study 3). The findings from this dissertation study also illustrate that uncertainty-related emotion eliciting a high-level construal mindset leads to a cognitive shift toward relying more on nonalignable attribute differences and a greater preference for the nonalignable-better brand although individuals usually rely more on alignable attribute differences and favor the alignable-better brand (Study 4). Accordingly, these outcomes occur because the certainty appraisal components of emotions influence mental construal levels.