Negative Emotions in Advertising and Game Design

This ad from Exec showed up in my inbox today. Total turnofff for me – and TARGETING FAIL for delivering this to a female. However, I’m curious to know the conversion rates on this ad — Exec may indeed be hitting a sweet spot/ pain point for their target market.

As we all know, negative emotions can be strong motivators. Advertising is rife with manufactured problems that are solved by the product being sold. Very smart people  advise us to use the Seven Deadly Sins to understand addictive products, and  tout the use of negative emotions to drive action.

Is that the experience you want to deliver to your players? Being driven to action by negative emotions? Not me. I don’t respond to that – and I don’t want to build products that embody that kind of manipulation.

So what’s the alternative? Can you motivate people and build habits WITHOUT using guilt, envy, pride, lust, gluttony, and shame to goad them into action?

I think there’s a clear alternative – and I’ll write about that in my next post. But first, I want to know what YOU think. If you’re a product designer, have you discovered a way to use positive emotions to drive behavior? Or are negative emotions (like the Seven Deadly Sins) the “gold standard” for building successful products? And is there a difference between how males and females respond emotionally to product design? I look forward to hearing your ideas and experiences in the comments.