The potential effect of cultural priming on the effectiveness of cultural value adaptation

JCMS_coverIn international advertising, there has been a long-standing debate about standardization versus adaptation. A prominent empirical line of research addressing this issue has revealed that adapting advertisements to important cultural values is beneficial for persuasion and ad liking. Strikingly, this effect is absent for Western Europeans. The present study examines if Western Europeans are sensitive to cultural value adaptation in advertising if individualism-collectivism is primed prior to exposure to the ad. An experiment was conducted in which an ad with an individualist or a collectivist value appeal was presented after exposure to irrelevant primes or to primes consisting of images expressing individualism-collectivism. Results were in line with existing studies: no effect of adaptation was found, even after cultural priming. The results were interpreted through the cultural perspective of dynamic constructivism, according to which the European context may explain why Europeans are as positive about incongruent value appeals as congruent appeals. The experiment adds to the body of research indicating that value adaptation in advertising is not beneficial for marketers in the Western European region.

  • Hornikx, J., & Nijhuis, J. (2016). The potential effect of cultural priming on the effectiveness of cultural value adaptation in advertising. Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy, 1 (2), 180-188. [link]

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]

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].

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]

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.

Cultural differences in the persuasiveness of evidence types and evidence quality

Cultural differences in reasoning and persuasion have mainly been documented for the East – West divide. Nisbett (2003) expects such differences to be absent for Western cultures because of their shared Grecian inheritance. The results of two experiments, however, show that France and the Netherlands, both Western-European countries, differ with respect to the persuasiveness of different evidence types. In Study 1 (N = 600), cultural differences occurred between the relative persuasiveness of anecdotal, statistical, causal and expert evidence. In Study 2 (N = 600), the quality of statistical and expert evidence was manipulated. For the Dutch, but not for the French, normatively strong evidence was more persuasive than normatively weak evidence for both evidence types. Implications and possible explanations are discussed.

  • Hornikx, J., & Hoeken, H. (2007). Cultural differences in the persuasiveness of evidence types and evidence quality. Communication Monographs, 74 (4), 443-463. [pdf]

Hoe goed zijn taalgebruikers in het selecteren van overtuigende evidentie?

Argumentatietheoretici hebben normatieve, kritische vragen geformuleerd om argumentkwaliteit te beoordelen. Deze vragen kunnen worden vertaald naar criteria voor hoge argumentkwaliteit. In recente onderzoeken is deze normatieve benadering van argumentkwaliteit (wat zou overtuigend moeten zijn?) vergeleken met descriptieve benaderingen (wat is overtuigend?). In dit artikel is deze vergelijking gemaakt voor gewone taalgebruikers. Argumentkwaliteit is daarbij onderzocht door te kijken naar soorten evidentie. De centrale vraag is dan: hoe goed zijn taalgebruikers in het selecteren van overtuigende evidentie? Deze vraag is beantwoord door de resultaten van Hornikx en Hoeken (2005) over de daadwerkelijke overtuigingskracht van evidentietypen af te zetten tegen een experiment waarin de verwachte overtuigingskracht van dezelfde evidentietypen voor dezelfde soort standpunten is gemeten. Proefpersonen maakten rangschikkingen van evidentietypen op basis van de verwachte overtuigingskracht om een ander van een aantal standpunten te overtuigen. Proefpersonen bleken behoorlijk goed in het selecteren van overtuigende evidentietypen: de evidentie waarvan ze verwachten dat deze (niet) overtuigend is, was meestal ook daadwerkelijk (niet) overtuigend.

  • Hornikx, J. (2007). Hoe goed zijn taalgebruikers in het selecteren van overtuigende evidentie? Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing, 29 (3), 224-236. [pdf]

Normatively strong and normatively weak expert evidence

I will give an overview of studies that investigated the persuasiveness of expert evidence as well as other types of evidence. One of these studies demonstrated that the persuasiveness of expert evidence was not the same in two different cultures. Section 3 will therefore discuss the relationship between expert evidence and the cultural background of people who judge expert evidence. Special attention will be paid to the question whether people from different cultures may vary in the persuasiveness of expert evidence that is normatively strong or normatively weak according to criteria from argumentation theory. The second part of this article will report on an experiment that investigated the persuasiveness of normatively strong or normatively weak expert evidence in France and the Netherlands.

  • Hornikx, J. (2007). Cultural differences in the persuasiveness of normatively strong and normatively weak expert evidence. In F. H. van Eemeren, J. A. Blair, C. A. Willard, & B. Garssen (Eds.), Proceedings of the sixth conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation (pp. 645-650). Amsterdam: Sic Sat. [pdf]

Measuring the effect of culture in experimental persuasive effects research

Studies that investigate the influence of culture on the persuasion process need methods and instruments to measure the effect of culture. As cultural studies have most frequently used values as a starting point for cross-cultural differences and similarities (see Section 2), values have also been used to measure culture. Persuasive effects research involving different cultures inherently encounters a number of methodological problems. In Section 3, I will describe these problems and some solutions, and propose the inclusion of context variables other than values as an alternative way of measuring the ef-fect of culture in experimental persuasive effects research.

  • Hornikx, J. (2006). Measuring the effect of culture in experimental persuasive effects research. In R. Crijns, & J. Thalheim (Eds.), Kooperation und Effizienz in der Unternehmenskommunikation: inner und außerbetriebliche Kommunikationsaspekte von Corporate Identity und Interkulturalität (pp. 195-204). Wiesbaden: Deutscher Universitäts-Verlag. [pdf]