Bizarrely, emotion was first discovered as a powerful advertising tool during experiments for psychosis in the 1950’s.
Doctors had hypothesized that psychopaths lack empathy and would therefore be unaffected by emotional events. Doctors proposed that psychopaths would be undisturbed from daily routine tasks by emotional events.
Their experiment asked both psychopaths and a control group (not psychopaths) to do a collection of mathematical puzzles. They then played shocking news stories and emotive music when they were half way through the puzzles.
The results showed that, as expected, the psychopaths were completely undisturbed by the news stories taking the same time to complete the puzzles whether the stories were playing or not. The control groups however were strongly affected. What was surprising was that 100% of the control group took longer to complete the Maths puzzles and 100% were distracted by the stories.
As community based mammals we have evolved so that our “right brain” (emotional side) takes over the “left brain” (logical side) to distract us when we are undertaking routine or logic based tasks.
Advertisers knew that this meant we could wrestle attention from our target market in their day-to-day lives if we pique an emotional response. Emotion in advertising (when done right), quite simply gets you noticed.