According to Mercier and Sperber (2009, 2011, 2017), people have an immediate and intuitive feeling about the strength of an argument. These intuitive evaluations are not captured by current evaluation methods of argument strength, yet they could be important to predict the extent to which people accept the claim supported by the argument. In an exploratory study, therefore, a newly developed intuitive evaluation method to assess argument strength was compared to an explicit argument strength evaluation method (the PAS scale; Zhao et al., 2011), on their ability to predict claim acceptance (predictive validity) and on their sensitivity to differences in the manipulated quality of arguments (construct validity). An experimental study showed that the explicit argument strength evaluation performed well on the two validity measures. The intuitive evaluation measure, on the other hand, was not found to be valid. Suggestions for other ways of constructing and testing intuitive evaluation measures are presented.
Hornikx, J., Weerman, A., & Hoeken, H. (2022). An exploratory test of an intuitive evaluation method of perceived argument strength. Studies in Communication Sciences, 22 (2), 311-324. [link]
Empirical research has shown that high-quality arguments according to criteria from argumentation theory lead to higher claim acceptance than low-quality arguments. However, this relationship was not observed in some cultural settings. This leads to the question whether criteria for high-quality arguments are culturally variable or universal. Therefore, adding to existing research on sensitivity to quality criteria for the argument from authority and the argument from generalization conducted mainly in Western cultural contexts, an experiment was run in Turkey (N = 307). Results showed that Turkish participants were sensitive to the quality of arguments: claim acceptance was higher when high-quality variants were used than when low-quality variants were used. While not neglecting potential cultural variability, these data add to the findings that there might be some level of universality in sensitivity to criteria for argument quality.
Demir, Y., & Hornikx, J. (2022). Sensitivity to argument quality: Adding Turkish data to the question of cultural variability versus universality. Communication Research Reports, 39 (2), 104-113. [link]
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world were bombarded by new information, often provided by experts, such as epidemiologists, virologists, or intensive care specialists. These experts have struggled at convincing the general public to behave in ways that make a way out of the pandemic possible. In this chapter, it is argued that audience acceptance of appeals to experts is conditional in two ways. First, acceptance of expert opinions is conditional upon the degree to which appeals to expert opinions respect critical questions regarding the evaluation of these appeals. Second, acceptance of expert opinions is conditional upon the audience’s prior belief in the claims. It is argued that the most likely factor that has played a role in the lack of influence of experts is the weak consensus between experts when it comes to issues regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hornikx, J. (2022). On the conditional acceptance of arguments from expert opinion. In Oswald, S., Lewinski, M., Greco, S., & Villata, S. (Eds.), The pandemic of argumentation (pp. 355-371). Springer. [link]
Argument quality plays an important theoretical and methodological role in persuasion research. Researchers frequently refrain from employing independent normative criteria to manipulate argument quality. Instead they use pretests to qualify arguments that evoke predominantly favorable thoughts as strong, and arguments that predominantly evoke unfavorable thoughts as weak. In this paper, we analyze weak arguments as they have been used in actual studies. These weak arguments ranged from arguments referring to less favorable consequences compared to their strong counterparts, to consequences that are irrelevant to the participants, or even to undesirable consequences thereby essentially functioning as counterarguments. We discuss the implications of this practice for our understanding of the persuasion process and our ability to provide evidence-based guidelines for message designers. We also provide guidelines on how to manipulate argument quality using normative criteria.
Hoeken, H., Hornikx, J., & Linders, Y. (2020). The importance and use of normative criteria to manipulate argument quality. Journal of Advertising, 49 (2), 195-201.
Aichner (2014) proposes a classification of ways in which brands communicate their country of origin (COO). The current, exploratory study is the first to empirically investigate the frequency with which brands employ such COO markers in magazine advertisements. An analysis of about 750 ads from the British, Dutch, and Spanish editions of Cosmopolitan showed that the prototypical ‘made in’ marker was rarely used, and that ‘COO embedded in company name’ and ‘use of COO language’ were most frequently employed. In all, 36% of the total number of ads contained at least one COO marker, underlining the importance of the COO construct.
Hornikx, J., Meurs, F. van, Janssen, A., & Heuvel, J. van den (2020). How brands highlight country of origin in magazine advertising: A content analysis. Journal of Global Marketing, 33 (1), 34-45.
This book presents a comprehensive account of the use and effects of foreign languages in advertising. Based on consumer culture positioning strategies in marketing, three language strategies are presented: foreign language display to express foreignness, English to highlight globalness, and local language to appeal to ethnicity (for instance, Spanish for Hispanics in the USA). The book takes a multidisciplinary approach, integrating insights from both marketing and linguistics, presenting both theoretical perspectives (e.g., Communication Accommodation Theory, Conceptual Feature Model, Country-of-origin effect, Markedness Model, Revised Hierarchical Model) and empirical evidence from content analyses and experimental studies. The authors demonstrate that three concepts are key to understanding foreign languages in advertising: language attitudes, language-product congruence, and comprehension. The book will appeal to students and researchers in the fields of sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, psycholinguistics, marketing and advertising.
Hornikx, J., & Meurs, F. van (2020). Foreign languages in advertising: Linguistic and marketing perspectives. Cham: Palgrave MacMillan. [link]
“The book is very well structured, the index is comprehensive, and it is very useful … . It will constitute valuable reading both for beginners embarking on research and for experts from both linguistics and marketing looking for synergies between these two fields”
Research into international advertising has shown culturally adapted value appeals to be more persuasive and better liked than non-adapted value appeals, especially when they appeal to the individualism–collectivism dimension. The exception to this observation is in Europe, where, despite significant cultural differences across the continent, such effects have not been identified. This study replicates the material from a previous, highly successful study, and adds a qualitative part to the study. Dutch participants completed a cognitive response task, placed either before or after the main dependent measures, to investigate whether inviting participants to think actively about an advertisement may lead to value activation and consequently to cultural value adaptation effects. The results indicate that cultural value adaptation has no effect on liking or persuasion, even when the cognitive response task occurred before the main dependent measures. This study adds to a growing body of literature indicating that Western Europeans do not consider advertisements adapted to the individualism–collectivism dimension to be more persuasive than non-adapted advertisements; likewise, Western Europeans do not prefer them over non-adapted advertisements.
Janssen, A., & Hornikx, J. (2019). Adapting advertising appeals to individualism or collectivism: the role of thought activation. Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy, 4 (1), 13-28. [link]
The persuasiveness of anecdotal evidence and statistical evidence has been investigated in a large number of studies, but the combination of anecdotal and statistical evidence has hardly received research attention. The present experimental study therefore investigated the persuasiveness of this combination. It also examined whether the quality of anecdotal evidence affects persuasiveness, and to what extent people comprehend the combination of anecdotal and statistical evidence. In an experiment, people read a realistic persuasive message that was relevant to them. Results showed that anecdotal evidence does not benefit from the inclusion of statistical evidence, nor from its intrinsic quality. The analysis of readers’ cognitive thoughts showed that only a minority of participants comprehended the relationship between anecdotal and statistical evidence.
Hornikx, J. (2018). Combining anecdotal and statistical evidence in real-life discourse: Comprehension and persuasion. Discourse Processes, 55 (3), 324-336.
In everyday situations, people regularly receive information from large groups of (lay) people and from single experts. Although lay opinions and expert opinions have been studied extensively in isolation, the present study examined the relationship between the two by asking how many lay people are needed to counter an expert opinion. A Bayesian formalisation allowed the prescription of this quantity. Participants were subsequently asked to assess how many lay people are needed in different situations. The results demonstrate that people are sensitive to the relevant factors identified for determining how many lay opinions are required to counteract a single expert opinion. People’s assessments were fairly good in line with Bayesian predictions.
Hornikx, J., Harris, A., & Boekema, J. (2018). How many laypeople holding a popular opinion are needed to counter an expert opinion? Thinking and Reasoning, 24 (1), 117-128.
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.