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]

De effecten van other-benefit appeals, self-benefit appeals en exemplars bij het werven van vrijwilligers

tvtIn onderzoek naar de effectiviteit van wervingsbrieven is het inspelen op de belangen voor een ander (other-benefit appeal) regelmatig vergeleken met het inspelen op de belangen voor de lezer zelf (self-benefit appeal). Omdat bij deze vergelijkingen de belangen inhoudelijk van elkaar verschilden, zijn in het huidige onderzoek de voordelen van gepropageerd gedrag in alle condities gelijkgehouden. Hiertoe werden exemplars ingezet. Wervingsbrieven met een exemplar werden tevens vergeleken met wervingsbrieven zonder exemplar om de effecten van exemplars na te gaan. Een experiment werd uitgevoerd met een 2 (type appeal) x 2 (met exemplar/zonder exemplar) tussen-proefpersoonontwerp (N = 120). De other-benefit appeal bleek overtuigender te zijn dan de self-benefit appeal. Brieven met een exemplar waren weliswaar niet overtuigender dan brieven zonder exemplar, maar werden wel beter gewaardeerd. Dit effect werd volledig gemedieerd door de levendigheid en de begrijpelijkheid van de brief.

  • Krieken, K. van, & Hornikx, J. (2013). De effecten van self-benefit appeals, other-benefit appeals en exemplars bij het werven van vrijwilligers voor charitatieve organisaties. Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing, 35 (1), 82-99. [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: 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 influence of scientese on ad credibility and ad liking

Current advertising for beauty products makes abundant use of scientese, scientific jargon in statistical and/or verbal form. As of yet, no study has examined the impact of scientese in an advertising context. Therefore, an experiment investigates the credibility and liking of ads for different beauty products with and without scientese. The study assesses effects in a culture likely to be susceptible to scientese because of its large power distance and high uncertainty avoidance (Wallonia), and in a culture less likely to be susceptible to scientese (the Netherlands). Dutch (n = 72) and Walloon (n = 60) judged different ads for beauty products with or without different forms of scientese. In both cultures, ads with scientese were found to be more credible but less liked than ads without scientese.

  • Mulken, M. van, & Hornikx, J. (2011). The influence of scientese on ad credibility and ad liking: A cross-cultural investigation of ads for beauty products. Information Design Journal, 19 (2), 92-102. [pdf]

De rol van begrijpelijke taal in een digitale context

Burgers krijgen in toenemende mate de verantwoordelijkheid voor hun eigen welvaren toebedeeld. Voor het nemen van die verantwoordelijkheid moeten ze over accurate, relevante en begrijpelijke informatie kunnen beschikken. Door digitalisering en de opkomst van het Internet zijn er grote veranderingen opgetreden in de omvang en de vorm van informatie. In dit onderzoek werden interviews gehouden met ruim 30 experts op het gebied van Leven Lang Leren, complexe financiële producten, bestuur en politiek, en gezondheid over hun visie op de ontwikkelingen in deze domeinen en de rol die begrijpelijke taal daarbij zal spelen. In alle domeinen wordt gesproken over een enorme toename van het informatie­aanbod wat enerzijds de kans op een bron met relevante informatie vergroot maar anderzijds de kans om die bron te vinden verkleint. Daarnaast blijkt een gebrek aan motivatie bij de burger om informatie aandachtig te verwerken minstens zo problematisch als de begrijpelijkheid van die informatie. Ook verwacht die burger een professionele presentatie waarbij tekst, beeld en geluid worden gecombineerd. Er blijkt echter nog maar weinig bekend over de optimale combinatie van tekst, beeld en geluid en de mate waarin die optimale combinatie afhangt van publiekskenmerken. De informanten vrezen enerzijds dat als gevolg van verschillen in digitale geletterdheid de kloof tussen arm en rijk, en tussen ziek en gezond alleen maar zal groeien. Anderzijds hopen ze dat die kloof wordt verkleind door optimaal gebruik te maken van de mogelijkheden die digitalisering biedt om communicatie qua inhoud en qua vorm toe te snijden op de behoeften en vaardigheden van de doelgroep.

  • Hoeken, H., Geest, T. van der, Goot, M. van der, Hornikx, J., Jongenelen, M., & Kruikemeier, S. (2011). De rol van begrijpelijke taal in digitale context: Ontwikkelingen op de domeinen Leven Lang Leren, complexe financiële producten, bestuur en politiek, en gezondheid. Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing, 33 (3), 266-286. [pdf upon request]

Persuasive evidence in India

Research on persuasive evidence types has been limited to Western cultures. Because Western systems of thought are claimed to be fundamentally different from Eastern systems of thought, the persuasiveness of evidence types was explored in one Eastern culture. Indians (N = 183) judged claims supported by different evidence types.  Statistical, expert, and causal evidence were found to be equally persuasive as support for claims.  Indians also appeared sensitive to evidence quality that was manipulated according to Western norms for reasonable argumentation: normatively strong evidence was more persuasive than normatively weak evidence.  Findings are compared to results from studies conducted in Western cultures.

  • Hornikx, J. & Best, J. de (2011). Persuasive evidence in India: An investigation of the impact of evidence types and evidence quality. Argumentation and Advocacy, 47 (4), 246-257. [pdf]

Epistemic authority of professors and researchers

Teachers and researchers are considered epistemic authorities that provide reliable information if that information is relevant to their discipline. Students differentiate between relevant and irrelevant disciplines when assessing teachers’ expertise. In this paper, it is investigated whether students’ cultural-educational background plays a role in this differentiation between relevant and irrelevant disciplines. In large power distance cultures such as France, students learn to respect and obey their teacher, whereas in smaller power distance cultures such as the Netherlands, the relationships between students and teachers are more informal. Therefore, French students may be less sensitive to the actual discipline when assessing a source’s expertise. In an experiment, it was empirically tested whether French students perceived smaller differences than Dutch students between fictitious professors and researchers who put forward information that is or is not related to their own discipline. Results showed that the French participants indeed differentiated to a much lesser degree between professors and researchers with a relevant and an irrelevant discipline than the Dutch participants. Further analyses indicated that students’ obedience partially mediated this effect of nationality on the difference between relevant and irrelevant disciplines. This study underlines the role that cultural-educational background can play in the assessments of epistemic authorities.

  • Hornikx, J. (2011). Epistemic authority of professors and researchers: Differential perceptions by students from two cultural-educational systems. Social Psychology of Education, 14 (2), 169-183. [open access]

Conducting research on international advertising

International research teams that are knowledgeable about the cultures under investigation are considered a prerequisite for sound research. By virtue of a meta-analytic review, this study empirically compared international and national research teams that have conducted experiments on the effectiveness of cultural value adaptation in advertising. Results show that, although the composition of research teams does not make for dependable differences in the outcomes of these experiments, international research teams may be more capable than national teams of designing pairs of culturally-adapted-versus-unadapted advertisements. It may not matter much, however, whether the international team includes a representative of the audience’s culture.

  • Hornikx, J., & O’Keefe, D. J. (2011). Conducting research on international advertising: The roles of cultural knowledge and international research teams. Journal of Global Marketing, 24 (2), 152-166. [link]