Neural Attributes Affecting Rhetoric

Medium—Visual Dominance

Like the first, the commercial appears on television; so, visual imagery is used throughout, and the several visual cues stimulate neural dynamics that contribute to the positive message. The images associated with the spokesperson, the images of the surrounding setting, and even the inclusion of the horses and child, all appeal to certain neural dynamics.

Primary Spokesperson—Female

Again, the primary spokesperson is a female, prompting consideration of the Prior Experience attribute of the model. She appeals to memories and cultural perception of a mother as a caring person, alleviating fears a viewer may have about fracking; the amygdala is not alarmed by his person.

Her general appearance also does not elicit fear; as with the first, while she does not display the “beauty” of a professional model, she is not unattractive. Her facial expression, when she speaks directly to the viewer about her family, the ranch, and desire for balance between fracking and maintenance of the ranch, is not one of concern, but reassurance.

The clothing she wears can be perceived as farming or ranch wear. She spends much time outdoors performing various responsibilities on the ranch. This is, also, re-enforced by the other people shown in the commercial— likely her family. They are dressed similarly. They could easily be anyone who loves nature and is concerned about their homestead. As such, mirror neurons are stimulated; the viewer could easily be her and her family.

She explains that she was concerned about letting energy companies drill on her ranch and how she was reassured that it was safe after doing some research. Unlike the first commercial, she is not an expert; yet, she is a concerned landowner who has a family that works the land. Consequently, mirror neurons are stimulated; anyone could be like her or someone else in her family.

So, the spokesperson for the particular commercial is representative of a caring, nurturing, cultural image, and her facial expressions re-enforce that perception and her interaction with other people also re-enforces friendliness. These may trigger mirror neurons in the viewer as well; those who oppose fracking represent themselves as caring about nature.

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