Contextual Influences on Message Persuasion: The Effect of Empty Space
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AbstractThe empty space that surrounds a text message can affect the message’s persuasiveness. Seven studies provide converging evidence in both field and laboratory settings that people find a message less persuasive, and are less likely to act on its implications, when it surrounded by empty space than when it is not. These effects are mediated by perceptions of message strength. That is, message recipients infer that a message conveys a less strong opinion when empty space surrounds it and are consequently less likely to accept its implications. This effect does not occur when the space surrounding the message is generated randomly by a computer or when the message is attributed to a low credibility source. When a message is counterattitudinal, surrounding it by empty space decreases the disposition to counterargue its implications and increases acceptance of the position advocated. When recipients are under cognitive load, however, they use the space surrounding the message as a heuristic basis for judgment and are less persuaded when the message is surrounded by empty space. This research adds not only to persuasion literature and current advertising practices, but also to an understanding of different interpretations of empty space.
All Author(s) ListCanice Kwan, Xianchi Dai, Robert Wyer
Journal nameJournal of Consumer Research
Volume Number44
Issue Number2
Place of PublicationUSA
Pages448 - 464
LanguagesEnglish-United States
Keywordsempty (white) space, persuasion, conversational inference, source characteristics

Last updated on 2020-20-10 at 03:37