Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Journalism and Mass Communications

First Advisor

Taylor Wen


Emotions are important constructs that affect the lives of everyone. Emotions play a particularly strong role in persuasion. This study examines the concept of emotional flow, a sequencing of specific discrete emotions in a strategic manner to affect attitudes and behaviors. In an experiment to understand the functions and applicability of emotional flow, an experiment was conducted using a public service announcement about melanoma that contained a sequence that flowed from humor to sadness to hope. This dissertation used both self-report as well as biometric measures of the emotional responses valence and arousal. Using Affect Priming Theory, Mood Management Theory, and Excitation Transfer Theory as guides, results showed that participants who viewed the humor-sadness-hope emotional flow had higher levels of arousal compared to those who viewed humor-sadness or humor-sadness-neutral emotional flows. The humorsadness- hope emotional flow resulted in higher levels of pleasure compared to those who viewed the humor-sadness emotional flow. Arousal was identified as a mediator between emotional flow and both message engagement and risk perceptions. Additionally, sadness was found to moderate the relationship between emotional flow and both attitude and message engagement.