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]

Boekbespreking: drogredenen en redelijkheidsoordelen

Drogredenen – vaak beschouwd als argumenten die valide of deugdelijk lijken maar het niet zijn – zijn een klassiek object van studie in de argumentatieleer. In de kennis die is opgedaan sinds Aristoteles, Locke en Hamblin ontbrak lang het perspectief van ontvangers van drogredenen. Hoe kijken gewone taalgebruikers naar drogredenen? Zien zij drogredenen ook als onredelijke argumenten? Deze laatste vraag heeft Frans van Eemeren, Bart Garssen en Bert Meuffels zo’n tien jaar beziggehouden. Tien jaar van empirisch onderzoek bij meer dan 1900 proefpersonen, verdeeld over meer dan 50 experimenten. Na publicaties over enkele van deze experimenten, waaronder uiteraard ook in Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing, was het wachten op een overzicht. Met “Fallacies and judgments of reasonableness” wordt dat wachten beloond. In een compacte en heldere stijl schetsen de drie auteurs de achtergrond van het onderzoeksprogramma, beschrijven ze de kenmerken van de studies en vatten ze de bevindingen kernachtig samen.

  • Hornikx, J. (2011). Bespreking van: Frans H. van Eemeren, Bart Garssen en Bert Meuffels (2009). Fallacies and judgments of reasonableness: Empirical research concerning the pragma-dialectical discussion rules. Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing, 33 (2), 193-195. [pdf]

Variations of standpoint explicitness in advertising

Empirical research has demonstrated that variation in standpoint explicitness matters. In several research reports, explicit articulations of a standpoint or conclusion have been compared to more implicit articulations. Meta-analyses of such reports (Cruz, 1998; O’Keefe, 1997, 2002) have shown that messages with explicitly stated standpoints are more persuasive than messages without such standpoints. Such effects were not found for advertising messages, for which the conclusion – buy this product – seems relatively straightforward, regardless of the articulation of the conclusion (Cruz, 1998). There are different ways in which explicit conclusions may be articulated, one of which is the use of probability markers. Advertising research has compared hedges (which mark a standpoint as moderately probable) and pledges (which mark a standpoint as very probable). In this study, it was investigated whether the reputation of the brand affects the persuasiveness of hedges and pledges. Based on a study conducted by Goldberg and Hartwick (1990), 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 put to a test in an experiment.

  • Hornikx, J. (2011). Variations of standpoint explicitness in advertising: An experimental study on probability markers. In F. H. van Eemeren, B. Garssen, D. Godden, & G. Mitchell (Eds.), Proceedings of the seventh conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation (pp. 824-830). Amsterdam: Sic Sat. [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]