The importance and use of normative criteria to manipulate argument quality

Argument quality plays an important theoretical and methodological role in persuasion research. Researchers frequently refrain from employing independent normative criteria to manipulate argument quality. Instead they use pretests to qualify arguments that evoke predominantly favorable thoughts as strong, and arguments that predominantly evoke unfavorable thoughts as weak. In this paper, we analyze weak arguments as they have been used in actual studies. These weak arguments ranged from arguments referring to less favorable consequences compared to their strong counterparts, to consequences that are irrelevant to the participants, or even to undesirable consequences thereby essentially functioning as counterarguments. We discuss the implications of this practice for our understanding of the persuasion process and our ability to provide evidence-based guidelines for message designers. We also provide guidelines on how to manipulate argument quality using normative criteria.

Hoeken, H., Hornikx, J., & Linders, Y. (2020). The importance and use of normative criteria to manipulate argument quality. Journal of Advertising, 49 (2), 195-201.

Adapting advertising appeals to individualism or collectivism: The role of thought activation


Research into international advertising has shown culturally adapted value appeals to be more persuasive and better liked than non-adapted value appeals, especially when they appeal to the individualism–collectivism dimension. The exception to this observation is in Europe, where, despite significant cultural differences across the continent, such effects have not been identified. This study replicates the material from a previous, highly successful study, and adds a qualitative part to the study. Dutch participants completed a cognitive response task, placed either before or after the main dependent measures, to investigate whether inviting participants to think actively about an advertisement may lead to value activation and consequently to cultural value adaptation effects. The results indicate that cultural value adaptation has no effect on liking or persuasion, even when the cognitive response task occurred before the main dependent measures. This study adds to a growing body of literature indicating that Western Europeans do not consider advertisements adapted to the individualism–collectivism dimension to be more persuasive than non-adapted advertisements; likewise, Western Europeans do not prefer them over non-adapted advertisements.

  • Janssen, A., & Hornikx, J. (2019). Adapting advertising appeals to individualism or collectivism: the role of thought activation. Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy, 4 (1), 13-28. [link]

The influence of high-/low-context culture on perceived ad complexity and liking

According to Hall’s context theory, people from different cultures may react differently to complex messages. The current study is the first empirical examination of context theory’s role on message comprehension and appreciation. In a comparative survey-based study (N = 289), Belgian and Dutch participants judged 12 complex product advertisements with visual metaphors. As expected by context theory, perceived complexity was lower for Belgian (a higher-context culture) than for Dutch participants (a lower-context culture), and participants’ personal context culture score fully accounted for this difference. Similarly, ad liking was higher for Belgian than for Dutch participants, and again this difference was explained by context score.

  • Hornikx, J., & Pair, R. le (2017). The influence of high-/low-context culture on perceived ad complexity and liking. Journal of Global Marketing, 30 (4), 228-237. 

Cultural values adapted to individualism-collectivism in advertising in Western Europe

In international communication, adaptation of messages to the audience’s values has been prominently studied. In advertising, a meta-analysis of experimental studies showed that ads with culturally adapted value appeals are generally more persuasive and better liked than ads with culturally unadapted value appeals. This general effect was not observed for studies with Western Europeans. One explanation may be that these studies did not examine individualism-collectivism – whereas adaptation to this dimension has been shown to be very successful. In this paper, this explanation was tested. Six experiments were conducted in which participants from Belgium, the UK or the Netherlands judged an ad with an adapted, individualistic appeal or with an unadapted, collectivistic appeal. The experiments and a subsequent meta-analysis indicate that Western Europeans are not more persuaded by the culturally adapted than by the culturally unadapted value appeals based on individualism-collectivism. This result nuances earlier findings underlining the importance of cultural value adaptation

  • Hornikx, J., & Groot, E. de (2017). Cultural values adapted to individualism-collectivism in advertising in Western Europe: An experimental and meta-analytical approach. International Communication Gazette, 79 (3), 298-316. [link]

Foreign languages as implicit country-of-origin cues in advertising

Brands can position themselves as belonging to a foreign culture by using foreign languages in advertising. Foreign languages in ads have been suggested to be implicit country-of-origin (COO) cues. This paper examines the expectations that foreign languages operate through the COO effect (Study 1), and that they evoke associations (Study 2) and generate persuasive effects (Study 3) similar to COO mentions. The findings of the studies, employing different language slogans for different products, lend support to these expectations. Thus, foreign languages in advertising derive their effectiveness from the COO effect, and practitioners can use them to benefit from this effect.

  • Hornikx, J., & Meurs, F. van (2017). Foreign languages as implicit country-of-origin cues in advertising: Mechanism, associations, and effects. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 29 (2), 60-73. 

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]

The curiosity-evoking capacity of foreign languages in advertising

dujal_pbIn commercial messages, such as advertisements, foreign languages are sometimes displayed. Regardless of whether readers understand the foreign language utterance, researchers have claimed that such foreign language display evokes curiosity to read the ad, and improves ad and product evaluation. Whereas empirical research has established the impact of foreign language display on evaluation, no studies have been conducted on its curiosity-evoking capacity. In this research note, the importance of this capacity is highlighted, and a first study is presented that tested this capacity. The results did not find support for the curiosity-evoking capacity of foreign language display.

  • Hornikx, J., & Mulder, E. (2015). The curiosity-evoking capacity of foreign languages in advertising. Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics, 4 (1), 59-66. [link]

Non-nativeness in communication: Use and effects of foreign languages in advertising

dujal_pbOne of the linguistic consequences of globalization is the increase in the number of people communicating with each other in a language that is not their own. Studies have started to examine how non-nativeness affects people in their production and evaluation of discourse. This special interest section brings together a collection of empirical papers in a particular domain of non-nativeness in communication, that is, the use and effects of foreign languages in job and product advertisements. These papers investigate how the use of foreign languages is appreciated by non-native users, what determines the occurrence of foreign languages, how recall of foreign languages compares to the recall of L1 advertising, and whether foreign languages attract the readers’ curiosity. Together, these papers demonstrate the growing academic interest in non-nativeness in communication.

  • Hornikx, J. (2015). Non-nativeness in communication: Use and effects of foreign languages in advertising. Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics, 4 (1), 1-5. [link]

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]

Van traditionele radioreclame naar crosschannel reclame

uluistertnaarradioVoor traditionele media zoals radio zorgt de toegenomen cross-platform mediabeleving tegelijk voor een bedreiging als een opportuniteit voor het verdienmodel. De toename aan meer visuele en interactieve kanalen via het internet houdt in dat een kleiner stuk van de reclamekoek van mediaplanners naar radioreclame zou gaan. Anderzijds biedt een cross-platform strategie ook opportuniteiten. Cross-mediale advertentiecampagnes bereiken de consument namelijk op een meervoudige manier en zouden zo tot sterkere effecten kunnen leiden. Voorveld (2011) bestudeerde als eerste de effectiviteit van simultane cross-mediale reclame: reclame die tegelijk via (internet)radio en internettekst de consument bereikt. Zij toonde aan dat deze aanpak tot betere herinnering, attitudes en aankoopintenties leidde dan advertenties via een enkel medium. In dit hoofdstuk bespreken we de relevante literatuur over cross-mediale reclame en vullen we die aan met een studie die het onderzoek van Voorveld (2011) conceptueel repliceert en nuanceert. In een online setting zagen deelnemers een nieuwspagina en luisterden ze tegelijk naar een radiofragment. De advertenties in beide kanalen werden gemanipuleerd zodat iedereen de doeladvertentie voor Ford of op twee internetpagina’s zag of eenmaal zag en tegelijkertijd een radiocommercial over Ford hoorde. In tegenstelling tot vergelijkbaar onderzoek (Smits & Hornikx, 2013) resulteerden advertenties die crossmediaal werden aangeboden niet in betere reclame-effecten dan advertenties die tweemaal op internet aangeboden werden. Bovendien bleek dit verschil niet afhankelijk van hoe skeptisch men staat ten opzichte van dit type marketingtechniek stond.

  • Hornikx, J., & Smits, T. (2014). Van traditionele radioreclame naar cross-channel multitasking reclame: wat is de meerwaarde? In d’Haenens, L., & Ichau, E. (Ed.), U luistert naar radio: Gebruik, functies en productie (pp. 133-147). Gent: Academia.