The Impact of Emotional Responses to Public Service Announcements: The Case of Gun Violence in Schools



We examine how people’s emotional reactions to gun violence public service announcements (PSAs) influence information acquisition, policy preferences, and political engagement. Utilizing a non-student sample of more than 100 participants, we look people’s emotional reactions (i.e., anger, sadness, contempt, and fear) to two Sandy Hook Promise PSAs. We assess people’s emotional reactions by relying on two complimentary measures: the traditional self-report measures as well as facial expression analysis. We demonstrate that when people are feeling sad after watching the Sandy Hook Promise PSAs, they are significantly more likely to retain information from a news article about school violence. Furthermore, feelings of contempt and fear lead people to seek out additional information about gun violence. In addition, we find when people feel anger, contempt, and fear after watching the PSAs, they change their views of gun policies. Finally, fear and contempt increase people’s likelihood of becoming politically mobilized.
Date made available2021
PublisherSAGE Journals

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