Claims in advertising may vary in their use of probability markers that signal the degree to which the claim is true. Experimental research has compared hedges (which mark a claim as moderately probable) and pledges (which mark a claim as very probable). This research has generally neglected the proponent of the claims: the brand. There are reasons to believe that the brand behind the advertising affects to what extent people are persuaded by advertising claims. In two studies it was therefore investigated whether the reputation of the brand affects the persuasiveness of hedges and pledges. It was expected that hedges would be more persuasive for low-reputation brands, whereas pledges would be more persuasive for high-reputation brands. This expectation was tested in two experiments. In Study 1, hedges and pledges were compared in an ad that was provided after information about a brand’s reputation. In Study 2, hedges, plegdes and no markers were compared in an ad in which the brand’s reputation was incorporated. Both studies did not find empirical support for the hypothesis. In Study 1, hedges and pledges were found to be equally persuasive; in Study 2, pledges were found to be more persuasive than hedges.
- Hornikx, J. (2012). The effects of hedges and pledges in advertisements for high and low reputation brands. In F. H. van Eemeren & B. Garssen (Red.), Exploring argumentative contexts (pp. 307-319). Amsterdam: Benjamins. [pdf upon request]