Foreign language display in advertising from a psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic perspective

9781466682627When targeting consumers on a global scale, companies make strategic use of languages in their advertising campaigns. This chapter presents an overview of theories and research regarding the effectiveness of the use of foreign languages (foreign language display, FLD) in advertising. The aim is to bring together theories and empirical studies from various domains, and to show principled explanations for the effectiveness of FLD from two perspectives. The first, psycholinguistic perspective examines the way in which foreign languages in advertising are mentally processed; the second, sociolinguistic perspective links the foreign language use to characteristics of the country where the foreign language is typically spoken. This chapter presents empirical evidence for the benefits and drawbacks of FLD, and identifies areas for further research.

  • Hornikx, J., & Meurs, F. van (2015). Foreign language display in advertising from a psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic perspective: A review and research agenda. In J. M. Alcántara-Pilar, S. del Barrio-García, E. Crespo-Almedros, & L. Porcu (Eds.), Analyzing the cultural diversity of consumers in the global marketplace (pp. 299-319). Hershey: IGI Global. [link]

Review of “The Sage handbook of persuasion: Developments in theory and practice (2nd edition)”

About ten years after The persuasion handbook: Developments in theory and practice (Dillard & Pfau, 2002), James Dillard and Lijiang Shen publish an updated, new version. In their SAGE Handbook of persuasion, they host a collection of 23 chapters that deal with fundamental issues in persuasion, that present a panorama of important theories and perspectives, and that demonstrate the importance of persuasion in diverse contexts and settings. […] Finally, how does this book relate to other books? For practical advice on how to design messages, Persuasive messages: The process of influence by William Benoit and Pamela Benoit (reviewed in this journal: Hornikx, 2008), nicely complements this handbook. For precise avenues that future research should focus on, Persuasion by Daniel O’Keefe (also reviewed in this journal: Hornikx, 2003) is excellent reading, but it does not outline the important contexts and settings in which persuasion plays a role, such as politics, health, and technology. In the broad spectrum of persuasion books on offer, this SAGE Handbook of persuasion is among the most prominent ones: written by some of the best scholars in the field, it covers a wide range of topics in a concise manner.

  • Hornikx, J. (2013). Review of “The Sage handbook of persuasion: Developments in theory and practice (2nd edition)” by James Dillard and Lijiang Shen. Information Design Journal, 20 (2), 187-189. [link]

English loanwords and their counterparts in Dutch job advertisements

BossenbroekA question which has not yet been addressed in loanword studies is to what extent people perceive loanwords as having different meanings than their native-language equivalents, and on what factors this may depend. Two factors determining association overlap between equivalent L1 and L2 words are their concreteness and cognateness. The aim of the current study was to determine experimentally to what extent English loanwords from Dutch job ads evoke the same associations as their Dutch equivalents, and to what extent this association overlap is predicted by the degree of concreteness and cognateness of these words. In an experiment, 60 Dutch participants wrote down associations with 30 English loanwords selected from corpora of Dutch job ads and with their Dutch counterparts, in two sessions separated by a six-week interval. As a baseline, they also wrote down three associations with English/Dutch word pairs which Van Hell and De Groot (1998) had found evoked a relatively small and a relatively large proportion of overlapping associations, respectively. The degree of concreteness and cognateness of these words was determined in separate norming studies involving 129 Dutch participants. It can be concluded that – in line with the Conceptual Feature Model – Dutch people have different associations with English loanwords from Dutch job ads than with their Dutch equivalents, and therefore link them to different conceptual features. The results showed that the mean overlap in associations between the English loanwords from Dutch job ads and their Dutch equivalents was 21.6%. This was significantly less than the percentage for the word pairs for which large overlap had been expected (30.6%), and similar to the percentage for the word pairs for which little overlap had been expected (21.4%). Regression analyses revealed that the degree of association overlap was significantly predicted by cognateness but not by concreteness.

  • Meurs, F. van, Hornikx, J., & Bossenbroek. G. (2014). English loanwords and their counterparts in Dutch job advertisements: An experimental study in association overlap. In Zenner, E. & Kristiansen, G. (Red.), New perspectives on lexical borrowing: Onomasiological, methodological and phraseological innovations (pp. 171-190). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter (pdf online).

Germans are not sensitive to the quality of statistical evidence

JOCC coverFor a long time, research in communication and argumentation has investigated which kinds of evidence are most effective in changing people’s beliefs in descriptive claims. For each type of evidence, such as statistical or expert evidence, high-quality and low-quality variants exist, depending on the extent to which evidence respects norms for strong argumentation. Studies have shown that participants are sensitive to such quality variations in some, but not in all, cultures. This paper expands such work by comparing the persuasiveness of high- and low-quality statistical and expert evidence for participants from two geographically close cultures, the Dutch and the German. Study 1, in which participants (N = 150) judge a number of claims with evidence, underscores earlier findings that high-quality is more persuasive than low-quality evidence for the Dutch, and – surprisingly – also shows that this is less the case for the Germans, in particular for statistical evidence. Study 2 with German participants (N = 64) shows again they are not sensitive to the quality of statistical evidence, and rules out that this finding can be attributed to their understanding of the rules of generalization. Together, findings in this paper underline the need to empirically investigate what norms people from different cultures have for high-quality evidence, and to what extent these norms matter for persuasive success.

  • Hornikx, J., & Haar, M. ter (2013). Evidence quality and persuasiveness: Germans are not sensitive to the quality of statistical evidence. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 13 (5), 483-501. [linkpdf upon request]

Writing assessment in higher education

dujal_pbThe present issue is a thematic issue on academic writing. It features nine papers that originate from an international symposium held at VU University Amsterdam in October 2011. At the symposium, which was organized by Rebecca Present-Thomas, Bert Weltens and John H.A.L. de Jong, papers and posters were presented that addressed different aspects of teaching and testing academic writing, with a special emphasis on the role of the Common European Framework of Reference, commonly known as CEF. Some of the papers represented here discuss attempts at relating local or national testing procedures to the CEF (Haapanen et al., Haines et al., Heaney et al.); others address the validity of writing tasks in a standardized writing test (Zheng & Mohammadi) and different methods for the classification of (higher) CEF levels (Present-Thomas et al.). Two papers present interesting attempts at identifying linguistic trends in higher-level learner English (De Haan & van der Haagen, Verheijen et al.). The last paper in the collection (Callies & Zaytseva) introduces a new corpus of academic learner writing and its potential use in assessing advanced writing proficiency.

  • Weltens, B., Hornikx, J., Lowie, W., Poelmans, P., & Present-Thomas, R. L. (2013). Writing assessment in higher education [A special issue of Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics]. Amsterdam: Benjamins. [link]

Foreign language display in advertising for congruent versus incongruent products

jicmAdvertising often confronts consumers with foreign languages, such as German or French in the US, but little is known about the circumstances under which this is effective. The linguistic theory of foreign language display claims that the congruence with the product is the essential element in its effectiveness. This study investigates this premise by having Dutch participants (N = 150) evaluate ads for products that were (in)congruent with the language of the slogan (French, German, Spanish). Results show that foreign language display is indeed more effective for congruent (e.g., wine–French) than for incongruent products (e.g., beer–French).

  • Hornikx, J., Meurs, F. van, & Hof, R.-J. (2013). The effectiveness of foreign-language display in advertising for congruent versus incongruent products. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 25 (3), 152-165. [pdf].

Occupational safety in multicultural teams and organizations: A research agenda

Safety is an important issue in the workplace, in particular at the lower end of the labor market where the workforce often consists of people with different cultural backgrounds. Studies have underlined the potential threats to occupational safety of this workforce. Surprisingly, however, very little research has been conducted on national culture and occupational safety. In this paper, we examine how national culture may play a role in important antecedents of safety behavior that have identified in the meta-analysis of Christian et al. (2009). We discuss safety knowledge, safety motivation, and safety climate. Based on this analysis, we make a number of suggestions for future research.

  • Starren, A., Hornikx, J., & Luijters, K. (2013). Occupational safety in multicultural teams and organizations: A research agenda. Safety Science, 52 (2), 43-49. [link].

Reasoning and argumentation

Although argumentation plays an essential role in our lives, there is no integrated area of research on the psychology of argumentation. Instead research on argumentation is conducted in a number of separate research communities that are spread across disciplines and have only limited interaction. Cognitive psychological research on argumentation has focused mostly on argument as a reason, and argument as structured sequence of reasons and claims. A third meaning of argument has been neglected: argument as a social exchange. All meanings are integral to a complete understanding of human reasoning and cognition. In this special issue, we present work that is relevant to all these three meanings of argument. The papers by Heit and Rotello (on the effect of argument length on inductive reasoning), by Harris, Hsu and Madsen (on a Bayesian test of the ad Hominem fallacy), and by Thompson and Evans (on belief bias in informal reasoning tasks) focus on arguments as reasons. By contrast, the contributions by Van Eemeren, Garssen, and Meuffels (on the reasonableness of the disguised abusive ad hominem fallacy), by Hoeken, Timmers, and Schellens (on argument quality and convincing arguments), by Mercier and Strickland (on how arguments can be evaluated from audience reactions), and by Bonnefon (on generating consequential arguments) deal intrinsically with situations where there are multiple protagonists in a communicative exchange. By including these papers, by researchers from a range of theoretical backgrounds, this special issue underlines the breadth of argumentation research as well as stresses opportunities for mutual awareness and integration.

  • Hahn, U., & Hornikx, J. (2012). Reasoning and argumentation [A special issue of Thinking and Reasoning]. London: Psychology Press. [link]

Reasoning and argumentation: Towards an integrated psychology of argumentation

Although argumentation plays an essential role in our lives, there is no integrated area of research on the psychology of argumentation. Instead research on argumentation is conducted in a number of separate research communities that are spread across disciplines and have only limited interaction. With a view to bridging these different strands, we first distinguish between three meanings of the word “argument”: argument as a reason, argument as a structured sequence of reasons and claims, and argument as a social exchange. All three meanings are integral to a complete understanding of human reasoning and cognition. Cognitive psychological research on argumentation has focused mostly on the first and second of these meanings, so we present perspectives on argumentation from outside of cognitive psychology, which focus on the second and third. Specifically, we give an overview of the methods, goals, and disciplinary backgrounds of research on the production, the analysis, and the evaluation of arguments. Finally, in introducing the experimental studies included in this special issue, which were conducted by researchers from a range of theoretical backgrounds, we underline the breadth of argumentation research as well as stress opportunities for mutual awareness and integration.

  • Hornikx, J., & Hahn, U. (2012). Reasoning and argumentation: Towards an integrated psychology of argumentation. Thinking and Reasoning, 18 (3), 225-243. [pdf upon request; publisher]

The effect of communication modality on the persuasiveness of hedges and pledges

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]