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Public information films, 1946-2006: A content-discourse analysis of emotional appeal usage and construction

Ford, Joseph (2012) Public information films, 1946-2006: A content-discourse analysis of emotional appeal usage and construction. Loughborough University.

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Abstract

Research into emotional appeals in a health and safety communications context has tended to focus on small, limited samples and has neglected to investigate the discursive aspects of appeal construction and, in conjunction with this, advice giving. This study used a mixed content-discourse analysis to investigate both appeal usage and construction within 217 archival Public Information Films (PIFs) produced between 1946 and 2006. The content analysis revealed consistently high rates of fear-based emotional appeals, often tempered by the presence of humour. The discourse analysis found a number of different techniques used by message conveyors to construct emotional appeals and give advice, many of which were rooted in their position of authority relative to their audiences. It is concluded that PIFs can be seen as holistic forms of heightened interaction, attempting to accomplish social goals. These findings contrast with earlier work and have implications for the study of emotional appeals and the design of public health and safety communications.

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