- In its effort to convince mothers to let their kids play football, the league seems to realize that it’s not enough to manufacture programs and spin narratives that make the sport seem safer. The league has also injected what psychologists call “incidental emotions”—ones you wouldn’t necessarily feel unless prompted—into the calculation. “Parents may already be worried about their child getting a concussion or getting hurt playing football. Those are emotions they are naturally facing with this choice,” says Piercarlo Valdesolo, a psychology professor at Claremont McKenna College and one of the authors of “Emotion and Decision Making.” “But making parents feel guilty for denying a child an opportunity to play football is framing the choice using an incidental emotion.”
This tactic, most prevalent in politics, aims to reduce a choice down to a gut-level decision. Why? Because “everyone’s gut can be manipulated,” Valdesolo says.