Emotional Cage Match: Rage vs. Joy

Posted on April 19, 2012


Rage: Not the only way to reach an audience

Here’s a great observation from a recent edition of the Monday Morning Memo from Roy William’s, who’s known to his followers as The Wizard of Ads, “Rage is a stronger motivator than joy. Not a stronger emotion; a stronger motivator. Rage demands action. Joy does not.”

When it comes to hosting a radio show that is a profound statement.

It explains why talk radio that plays to rage is so successful. It’s not that rage is a stronger emotion than joy, it’s just a better motivator. In the case of desk-pounding talk radio it apparently motivates people to tune in.

But I think that’s less interesting than the other side of the coin; the fact that joy isn’t a motivator makes it harder to focus on as a host. It’s harder to put content on the air that creates joy because it gets less response.

The phones don’t light up. People don’t tell you how right you are. Your friends and followers don’t post comments on Facebook cheering you on. They might click the “like” button but they are less likely to actively engage with you.

But be sure to notice what Williams, who specializes in writing amazing advertising copy that motivates people to interact with brands, says: rage isn’t stronger than joy.

Talking about something that makes you or your audience feel happy can create an emotional bond every bit as strong as talking about something that incites rage, they are just less likely to call and tell you.

Consider that the next time you are choosing between a positive story that will bring listeners joy and a negative one that will incite rage. Go with the one most likely to strengthen your emotional bond with the audience not just the one that will stroke your ego by inciting a response.