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I investigate persuasive argumentation, multilingual advertising, and cultural adaptation in persuasive effects research.

This site provides easy access to my publications (copyright notice). A full list of publications is here.

(photo credits: Suzan Zanders)

The influence of high-/low-context culture on perceived ad complexity and liking

According to Hall’s context theory, people from different cultures may react differently to complex messages. The current study is the first empirical examination of context theory’s role on message comprehension and appreciation. In a comparative survey-based study (N = 289), Belgian and Dutch participants judged 12 complex product advertisements with visual metaphors. As expected by context theory, perceived complexity was lower for Belgian (a higher-context culture) than for Dutch participants (a lower-context culture), and participants’ personal context culture score fully accounted for this difference. Similarly, ad liking was higher for Belgian than for Dutch participants, and again this difference was explained by context score.

  • Hornikx, J., & Pair, R. le (2017). The influence of high-/low-context culture on perceived ad complexity and liking. Journal of Global Marketing, 30 (4), 228-237. 

Cultural values adapted to individualism-collectivism in advertising in Western Europe

In international communication, adaptation of messages to the audience’s values has been prominently studied. In advertising, a meta-analysis of experimental studies showed that ads with culturally adapted value appeals are generally more persuasive and better liked than ads with culturally unadapted value appeals. This general effect was not observed for studies with Western Europeans. One explanation may be that these studies did not examine individualism-collectivism – whereas adaptation to this dimension has been shown to be very successful. In this paper, this explanation was tested. Six experiments were conducted in which participants from Belgium, the UK or the Netherlands judged an ad with an adapted, individualistic appeal or with an unadapted, collectivistic appeal. The experiments and a subsequent meta-analysis indicate that Western Europeans are not more persuaded by the culturally adapted than by the culturally unadapted value appeals based on individualism-collectivism. This result nuances earlier findings underlining the importance of cultural value adaptation

  • Hornikx, J., & Groot, E. de (2017). Cultural values adapted to individualism-collectivism in advertising in Western Europe: An experimental and meta-analytical approach. International Communication Gazette, 79 (3), 298-316. [link]

Cultural differences in the perceptions of strong and weak arguments

The process of arbitration requires human reasoning and decision-making. Parties evaluate the evidence that is available to them and decide how to best present their case. Arbitrators aim to resolve a dispute by weighing the evidence and the legal arguments that are presented by each side. Researchers have underlined the importance of strong evidence in legal deliberations, but what exactly characterizes strong arguments? This chapter addresses this question as a first point. The characteristics of arbitrators, such as age, gender, and cultural background, may affect how arbitrators process arguments. Yet given the aim of arbitration to be an objective and neutral process, it is important to consider how such characteristics may impact the ultimate outcome of a case. This chapter examines the last of these characteristics, namely the role of culture in this decision-making process. More precisely, this chapter reviews the research evidence on how members of different cultures evaluate strong and weak arguments.

  • Hornikx, J.  (2017). Cultural differences in the perceptions of strong and weak arguments. In T. Cole (ed.), The role of psychology in international arbitration (pp. 72-92). Alphen aan den Rijn: Wolters Kluwer. [link]

Foreign languages as implicit country-of-origin cues in advertising

Brands can position themselves as belonging to a foreign culture by using foreign languages in advertising. Foreign languages in ads have been suggested to be implicit country-of-origin (COO) cues. This paper examines the expectations that foreign languages operate through the COO effect (Study 1), and that they evoke associations (Study 2) and generate persuasive effects (Study 3) similar to COO mentions. The findings of the studies, employing different language slogans for different products, lend support to these expectations. Thus, foreign languages in advertising derive their effectiveness from the COO effect, and practitioners can use them to benefit from this effect.

  • Hornikx, J., & Meurs, F. van (2017). Foreign languages as implicit country-of-origin cues in advertising: Mechanism, associations, and effects. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 29 (2), 60-73. 

Integriteit in kwantitatief, empirisch onderzoek: problemen en mogelijke oplossingen

TvT coverIn the social sciences, there is an important debate about how to do good empirical research and how to publish about it. As this journal, the Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing, also regularly publishes empirical studies, the present article aims to open the debate in the field of language and communication. After outlining the major problems associated with research integrity and developing potential solutions to these problems, we invited researchers from the field of language and communication to present their views, which are published as reactions to this paper in the current issue of this journal.

  • Hornikx, J., & Batenburg, A. (2016). Integriteit in kwantitatief, empirisch onderzoek: problemen en mogelijke oplossingen. Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing, 38 (2), 119-131 [link].

Integriteit in kwantitatief, empirisch onderzoek: het perspectief van taalbeheersers

TvT coverThe lead article by Hornikx and Batenburg (2016) invited researchers in language and communication to reflect on problems and possible solutions related to research integrity in conducting and reporting quantitative, empirical research. The reactions from the colleagues in the field underline the problems that were described, and present a number of solutions to these problems. In general, these solutions can be summarized under the heading of meta-analytic thinking: one study does not provide a yes-or-no answer to a given answer; it should be designed to provide more robust results (e.g., through replications, multiple message designs), and should be reported in such a way as to be replicable in the research community (e.g., transparency, registration reports).

  • Batenburg, A., & Hornikx, J. (2016). Integriteit in kwantitatief, empirisch onderzoek: het perspectief van taalbeheersers. Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing, 38 (2), 193-200 [link].

An experimental investigation of the role of distraction and dilution

PaglieriStudies on persuasive arguments have generally found that claims supported by high-quality evidence are better accepted than claims supported by low-quality evidence. However, an experiment by Hoeken and Hustinx (2007) demonstrated that this effect was only observed in short texts (a claim with evidence), but not in longer texts (where information unrelated to the evidence was added at the end of the text). The present experiment was conducted to examine whether this effect of text length could be explained by distraction (the additional text at the end distracts the reader) or by dilution (the additional text makes the fragment less diagnostic for claim evaluation). Participants (N = 629) read two texts with a claim supported by high-quality or low-quality (anecdotal, statistical, or expert) evidence. The text was presented in one of the three versions: (1) short, (2) long with additional information at the end, or (3) new in comparison to Hoeken and Hustinx (2007) – long with additional information at the start. The data found support for the distraction explanation. An effect of evidence quality on claim acceptance was observed in two conditions: in the short text, and in the longer text with additional information at the start. The effect of evidence quality was not found in the longer text with additional information at the end.

  • Hornikx, J. (2016). Evidence quality variations and claim acceptance: An experimental investigation of the role of distraction and dilution. Paglieri, F., Bonelli, L., & Felletti, S. (eds.), The psychology of argument: Cognitive approaches to argumentation and persuasion (pp. 211-222). London: College Publications. [paper book]

A normative framework for argument quality: Argumentation schemes with a Bayesian foundation

syntheseIn this paper, it is argued that the most fruitful approach to developing normative models of argument quality is one that combines the argumentation scheme approach with Bayesian argumentation. Three sample argumentation schemes from the literature are discussed: the argument from sign, the argument from expert opinion, and the appeal to popular opinion. Limitations of the scheme-based treatment of these argument forms are identified and it is shown how a Bayesian perspective may help to overcome these. At the same time, the contributions of the standard scheme-based approach are highlighted, and it is argued that only a combination of the insights of different traditions will yield a complete normative theory of argument quality.

  • Hahn, U., & Hornikx, J. (2016). A normative framework for argument quality: Argumentation schemes with a Bayesian foundation. Synthese, 193 (6), 1833-1873. [link]

De perceptie van afzwakkende en versterkende markeerders in isolatie en in reclamecontext

demachtvantaalReclameclaims worden soms versterkt of afgezwakt door markeerders als ‘in alle gevallen’ of ‘in de meeste gevallen’. Bestaand experimenteel onderzoek naar de overtuigingskracht van markeerders laat uiteenlopende resultaten zien. Het huidige onderzoek probeert deze bevinding te verklaren door de perceptie van versterkende en afzwakkende markeerders in isolatie en in een reclamecontext te meten. Proefpersonen (N = 230) kenden een mate van waarschijnlijkheid toe aan beide markeerders in isolatie en in een reclamecontext (ingebed in een productclaim). De markeerders lijken hun doel niet te dienen: op een 100-puntsschaal scoren afzwakkers 64 (isolatie) of 57 (reclamecontext) en versterkers 78 (isolatie) of 70 (reclamecontext). Met deze scores voor markeerders is het niet vreemd dat de overtuigingskracht van productclaims niet toeneemt wanneer markeerders worden toegevoegd. In een reclamecontext waren, zoals verwacht, de waarschijnlijkheidsinschattingen significant lager dan in isolatie.

  • Hornikx, J., & Krommenhoek, N. (2016). De perceptie van afzwakkende en versterkende markeerders in isolatie en in reclamecontext. In D. Van de Mieroop, L. Buysse, R. Coesemans, & P. Gillaerts (Red.),  De macht van de taal: Taalbeheersingsonderzoek in Nederland en Vlaanderen (pp. 77-86). Leuven: Acco. [link]

Een kritische analyse van de manipulatie van argumentkwaliteit in reclameonderzoek

demachtvantaalOver het algemeen raken mensen meer overtuigd door sterke dan door zwakke argumenten. In de empirische literatuur bestaan er echter inconsistente bevindingen voor het effect van argumentkwaliteit. In dit paper wordt onderzocht of de manipulatie van argumentkwaliteit een verklaring kan bieden voor deze tegenstrijdige bevindingen. Een analyse van dergelijke manipulaties in 32 uitgevoerde empirische onderzoeken leidt tot twee belangrijke inzichten. Ten eerste manipuleren onderzoekers voornamelijk pragmatische argumentatie, waarbij het standpunt over de wenselijkheid van de aanschaf van een product wordt ondersteund door te verwijzen naar de wenselijke gevolgen van het gebruik van dat product. Ten tweede blijkt de wijze van manipulatie sterk uiteen te lopen: bij de zwakke argumenten wordt soms naar minder wenselijke gevolgen verwezen, in andere gevallen naar neutrale gevolgen (waardoor er eigenlijk geen sprake is van een argument), en soms zelfs naar onwenselijke gevolgen (waardoor er geen sprake is van een zwak pro-argument maar van een tegenargument). Deze verschillende manieren waarop argumentkwaliteit in de 32 onderzochte studies gemanipuleerd werd, zouden een verklaring kunnen bieden voor de soms tegenstrijdige bevindingen in onderzoek naar argumentkwaliteit.

  • Weerman, A., Hoeken, H., & Hornikx, J. (2016). Een kritische analyse van de manipulatie van argumentkwaliteit in reclameonderzoek. In D. Van de Mieroop, L. Buysse, R. Coesemans, & P. Gillaerts (Red.),  De macht van de taal: Taalbeheersingsonderzoek in Nederland en Vlaanderen (pp. 309-321). Leuven: Acco. [link]