Laughing and crying: mixed emotions, compassion, and the effectiveness of a YouTube PSA about skin cancer

Health Commun. 2015;30(8):820-9. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2013.845729. Epub 2014 May 30.


Emotionally evocative public service announcements are one way that public health advocates hope to persuade people to take action against skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the United States. This article describes an experiment (N = 193) to test the ways mixed emotional appeals influence communication and health outcomes. The data indicate that mixed emotional appeals foster feelings of compassion, which in turn motivate individual and social behaviors. The findings also provide insight into how audience reactions of fear impact postmessage behaviors. Implications for future research and health message design are discussed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Communication
  • Crying
  • Emotions*
  • Empathy*
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laughter
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Public Service Announcements as Topic*
  • Skin Neoplasms / psychology*
  • United States
  • Video Recording*
  • Young Adult