Technique #1: Emotional Language

What is

Emotions are powerful tools of persuasion. Research shows that using emotional words, especially ones that evoke negative emotions such as fear or outrage, increases the viral potential of social media content. This use of negative emotional words to manipulate is sometimes referred to as “fearmongering”.

How to be sure it's Emotional Language?

Everyday Examples

The judge issued a DISGUSTING ruling today. If this doesn’t make your blood boil, you’re not human.

News alert! Baby formula linked to horrific outbreak of new, terrifying disease among helpless infants!

Brutally beaten man desperately begs for help at hospital, is only given treatment after 2 agonizing hours.

Study under review - coming soon

Project Description

Truth Labs for Education is a collaboration between Cambridge University, the University of Bristol, and Google Jigsaw. We created a series of short videos designed to help people resist unwanted persuasion online. The videos are rooted in a framework from social psychology called inoculation theory, which posits that by exposing people to a weakened dose of a persuasive argument or technique and pre-emptively refuting it, they develop psychological resistance against future manipulative persuasion attempts.

We created 5 videos, each of which “inoculates” people against a particular manipulation technique or misleading rhetorical device commonly encountered online: ad hominem attacks, using emotional language to evoke fear or outrage, false dichotomies, incoherence, and scapegoating.