We develop a series of hypotheses delineating the impact of arousal potential on arousal and of arousal on stimulus evaluation, and we introduce the concept of need for stimulation (NST) as a key moderating variable which takes into account other sources of stimulation and individual differences in preferred level of stimulation. The hypotheses are investigated in an exploratory study involving a series of fear-appeal ads. We find that there is a monotonically increasing relationship between the arousal potential of a stimulus and the arousal it induces in the consumer, and that the relation between arousal evoked by the stimulus and the consumer's evaluation of the stimulus takes the form of an inverted U. Support is also obtained for the moderating role of NST in this process. The effect of arousal potential on arousal is stronger for individuals with higher NSTs, and the level of arousal at which stimulus evaluation reaches a maximum is higher for people with higher NSTs.
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