7 Basic Human Emotions To Manipulate Readers

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Basic human emotions have three primary components. The first are physiological changes such as increase in heart rate. Next there is a behavioral response, do I stay or do I go – the tendency to escape from or stay in contact with whatever is causing the emotion. Lastly, the subjective experience of feeling angry, happy, or sad – or somewhere inbetween.

Bloggers are no stranger to their own human emotions. There’s that anxious feeling of submitting a post wondering whether it would be enjoyed by their readers. The disgust in themselves seeing that their post has 0 likes, 0 tweets, 0 comments. That means zero love.

But don’t feel too bad. We’re all emotional every second of the day and bloggers should tap into the human emotions of their readers. If you have zero shares or comments, it’s not that your articles are trash or badly written. Maybe it’s just the emotional tone that needs a swift kick in the pants.

Our goal is to elicit emotions that excite or repulse the reader so much that they have to share your article with their social network. The reader is looking for confirmation from their peers that the way they are feeling is justified.

There are many types of human emotions. Here are seven that you can use to elicit sharing from your readers.

Human Emotions 1. Awe

What is awe? The definition from Google is “A feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder”.

A great way to inspire awe in your reader is to write something truly remarkable. If your post is genuinely amazing in terms of it’s content or written style, reader’s won’t be able to resist sharing and commenting. Huge lists work very well – something like 101 Ways To Skin A Cat. This turn of phrase is just awful by the way. The word “awful” literally means “To be filled with awe”.

Human Emotions 2. Anger



Anger is one of the basic negative human emotions also epitomized in birds, apparently (joke). I don’t really recommend pissing people off but if you have a strong opinion about something, expressing it can draw out the trolls. But hey, they’ll tweet about it, write blog posts, and try get confirmation from their friends that you’re an awful person. You see, you would have filled them with awe!

Challenge your reader’s belief system or contradict common knowledge. Really rile them up!

Human Emotions 3. Anxiety

People don’t like feeling nervous and anxious. You can create anxiety by making the reader feel like they’re missing out on something.

Human Emotions 4. Fear

The strongest motivator to get someone to do something – even if they don’t particularly want to – is to elicit fear. Fear triggers the part of our brains that exists solely for our physical survival. It’s called the “reptilian brain” that makes up a part of the Basal Ganglia.

As an example, I used the emotion of fear in my article 8 Google SEO Mistakes That Will Choke Your Search Ranking to try make the reader feel they’ve made a mistake that could hurt their website.

Human Emotions 5. Joy

One of my favorite positive human emotions. There’s lots of things that make people happy. For instance, the video at the bottom of this page brings me a lot of joy deep in the cockles of my heart. Joy can be anything uplifting, funny or inspiring.

Human Emotions 6. Lust



“First you get the money. Then you get the power. Then you get the women.” People can lust after many things including money and fame. Of course, many people lust after sex or any intimate contact. Others lust after food. Personally, I lust after anything chocolate. Trigger lust in the reader by teasing them with the results they’re looking for.

Human Emotions 7. Surprise

Go against reader’s expectations and surprise them. You can challenge assumptions or prove them wrong. You can give away something for free unexpectedly.

All 7 Emotions Working Together Can Make Your Article Go Viral

The 2013 craze of the Harlem Shake has several emotional elements that helped it topple the Gangnum Style craze of 2012. Can you identify all 7 emotions being elicited while watching this video?



You can thank me later.



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