The claim that a product advertisement aims to put forward is usually related to the product benefits. In an abstract way, claims have formats such as ‘Product X has benefit Y’ or ‘Product X leads to benefit Y’. Advertisers do not necessarily express such product claims explicitly. Claims may be left implicit because readers can easily construct them personally. If product claims are expressed explicitly, advertisers sometimes use hedges or pledges, which mark the probability that the promised benefit will occur. A hedge marks a claim as moderately probable (e.g., In most cases), whereas a pledge marks a claim as highly probable (e.g., In all cases). Experimental research to date (see §2) has shown that these probability markers are equally persuasive, and that they are not more persuasive than claims without such markers. Berney-Reddish and Areni (2005) argue that research should examine hedges and pledges in different communication modalities because people have been shown to process information differently in various communication modalities, such as print, audio, and the Internet. The present study therefore compares the persuasiveness of hedges and pledges in advertising claims in print and audio, and examines how these markers are processed in the two communication modalities.
- Neessen, G., & Hornikx, J. (2012). The effect of communication modality on the persuasiveness of hedges and pledges in advertising claims. In Heynderickx, P., Dieltjens, S., Jacobs, G., Gillaerts, P., & Groot, E. de (red.), The language factor in international business: New perspectives on research, teaching and practice (pp. 199-214). Bern: Peter Lang. [pdf upon request]