Three Ways Emotions Affect Decision Making

In our data driven society, it often feels like people equate numbers with success. Likes, clicks, followers- all of these are indicators of how well we’re doing, or how much people like us. While it is true as the old saying goes, “the numbers don’t lie,” over the next two weeks we want to look at how and why people choose to click, like, or follow something in the first place. That choice is contingent on the emotional connection you feel with whatever you are seeing on screen. Once that in-road is made, the logical, rational part of the story can be told second.

One of our favorite examples of this was a shoot we did with the Columbus School for Girls. CSG is a private, all girls school in Columbus, Ohio that focuses on changing the face of female-only education. They were aware that there is a stigma that comes with female-only education, but were determined not to live into those stereotypes. CSG has mountains of data regarding the success rates of their students, the viability of their teaching plans, and the credentials of their staff. But instead of making a video for them that focused on the qualifications of their programs, we instead made a video about Charlotte Falk and her family’s experience at the school. Why? Because an emotional connection with the Falk family allows the viewer to experience what a good school CSG is on a deeper level. Here’s how:

  1. Tell your viewer why they should care. The first shot of the video focuses on Charlotte, sitting in a brightly lit classroom, telling her personal story. Immediately the viewer is invited into her world, and her struggle, of being a teenage girl who felt misfitted at her previous school. Charlotte is an extremely relatable narrator, as she openly explains the lack of confidence she felt before attending CSG. It is easy to identify with Charlotte, whether you are a student, parent, or casual onlooker, because everyone has had times in their life when they have lacked self confidence or felt misfitted. As Charlotte’s parents, Nancy and Steve Falk, are introduced, you are invited deeper into their family as a whole’s experience. Establishing these three characters in the first seconds of the video gives different perspectives and viewpoints for the viewer to choose from. And no matter which the viewer identifies with the most, this is a family that they can care about, not just watch on-screen.

  2. Show your viewer what they should feel. It would have been easy to have simply interviewed Charlotte’s parents without ever showing any shots of the school. It would have been easy to have them list off the statistics of the successful students at CSG. At one point in the story, Steve Falk begins to talk about college acceptance rates among CSG grads, but the audio and visual cuts from that statement to girls going to class in the hallways. While college acceptance rates are extremely important, they are not the focus of the video. The students are. We wanted to show the interior and exterior of the school so that the viewer could get a clear feeling of what a day is like for the students there. By having much of the audio in voice-over, and showing the girls everyday school life, the audience is made to feel connected to what goes on in the school. They are not lost in a long list of statistics and data, they are allowed to see how great the school is. After feeling connected to the stories of the students that go there, data can be presented that backs up those stories.

  3. Give your viewer a reason to come back. Throughout the video, we hear Charlotte and her parents give reason after reason why they love CSG. You can tell from their stories, especially the anecdote about Charlotte’s little sister scoring her first goal on the basketball team, that the reasons why they love the school are varied. The most important reason is that Charlotte is engaged and involved in school for the first time since middle school. The feeling of safety and support that the viewer feels when the Falk family talks about CSG is contagious. It’s a feeling that your viewer wants to live in. By creating that feeling of safety, solidarity, and acceptance through words and images, the viewer wants to hear this story told over and over again.


Next week, we’ll continue to talk about this concept of emotional decision making and how it works towards our process in video creation. By telling your viewer why they should care, showing them what they should feel, and giving your viewer a reason to come back, you can lay an emotional framework that is more influential than all the data in the world.


At Rooted Content, we believe in telling real stories with purpose to help your brand succeed through video marketing tools. Call or click today to find out how we can start helping you find the emotional storyline in your business today.