Which emotions are best?

People often ask us – which emotions are best? What should my content elicit? The answer is more complex than you’d think. We consider a hierarchy of outcomes from ineffective, to ideal:

  1. The least effective content will produce no emotional response at all.
  2. Any emotional response at all is better than none.
  3. An activating emotion (i.e., arousing; not sadness) is preferable.
  4. Then, an activating emotion with high positivity (i.e., not fear or disgust).
  5. Of the activating, positive emotions, surprise is best.
  6. Surprise + another emotion is ideal: it creates then maintains engagement.