General statement of research interests

I am interested in the broad field of persuasive effects research. The central question I address is what the persuasive consequences are of variations in language on the attitudes, behavioral intentions, and behavior of individuals. These language variations may consists of types of argument (e.g., Hornikx & Hoeken, 2007), probability markers (e.g., Hornikx, Pieper, & Schellens, 2008), the use of irony (Hornikx & Van Mulken, 2004), culturally adapted appeals (e.g., Hornikx, Hendriks, & Thijzen, 2010), or foreign language display (e.g., Hornikx, Van Meurs, & Starren, 2007). From a methodological perspective, my research mainly uses experimental designs, but I am also familiar with corpus research (e.g., Hornikx, Hoeken, & Starren, 2003), and meta-analysis (e.g., Hornikx & O’Keefe, 2009).

Three lines of research

1. Persuasive argumentation and the role of culture – I have conducted a number of studies on cultural differences in the persuasiveness of evidence types and evidence quality. My dissertation was about this topic (Hornikx, 2005). On of the basic questions addressed in evidence research is which type of evidence is most persuasive (see review in Hornikx, 2005). Furthermore, researchers have also addressed whether normatively strong evidence is more persuasive than normatively weak evidence (e.g., Hornikx & Hoeken, 2007). When it comes to a cross-cultural perspective, I have compared Netherlands and France on the occurrence of evidence types (Hornikx, Hoeken, & Starren, 2003), on the actual persuasiveness of evidence types (e.g., Hornikx & Hoeken, 2007), and on the expected persuasiveness of evidence types (Hornikx, 2008). Obedience appears to be a partial explanation for the cross-cultural difference in the persuasiveness of expert evidence (Hornikx, 2011). I have also explored the persuasiveness of evidence quality and types in India (Hornikx & De Best, 2011) and in Germany (Hornikx & Ter Haar, 2013).

2. Multilingual advertising – Advertising regularly contains foreign languages. In most cases, this language is English, but my focus is on other foreign languages because they are – on contrast to English – directly associated with a country and its characteristics. One question addressed is whether using a foreign language is more persuasive than using the target group’s own language, and whether the difficulty of the language matters (e.g., Hornikx, Van Meurs, & De Boer, 2010). The success of foreign language display can be explained by the associations they evoke (see Hornikx, Van Meurs, & Starren, 2007), and not so much by the curiosity they evoke (Hornikx & Mulder, 2015). Consistent with work on the country-of-origin effect, foreign languages are more persuasive in ads for products that are congruent (wine with French) than for products that are incongruent (beer with French) (Hornikx, Van Meurs, & Hof, 2013).

3. Cultural adaptation – With the current globalization, it is believed that communication should be adapted to the cultural background of the different target groups. Indeed, a meta-analysis indeed shows that culturally adapted appeals in advertising are more persuasive than culturally unadapted appeals (Hornikx & O’Keefe, 2009), although this effect was not found for European participants (Hornikx & O’Keefe, 2007), not even after cultural priming (Hornikx & Nijhuis, 2016). Further research on the research team composition showed that international research teams may be more capable than national teams in designing pairs of culturally adapted–versus–unadapted advertisements (Hornikx & O’Keefe, 2011). I have also investigated cultural adaptation in the field of fundraising letters (Hornikx, Hendriks, & Thijzen, 2010).