When it pays to be clear: the appeal of concrete communication under uncertainty

van Horen, F, Wanke, M and Mussweiler, T M (2024) When it pays to be clear: the appeal of concrete communication under uncertainty. International Journal of Advertising, 43 (3). pp. 533-553. ISSN 0265-0487 OPEN ACCESS


This research demonstrates that the persuasiveness of concrete versus abstract communication in advertisers’ promotional messages depends on how (un)certain people feel. Three lab experiments and one study conducted in a natural setting provide converging evidence that uncertainty (versus certainty) increases the appeal of products advertised concretely (i.e., more specific, tangible, less open to interpretation) rather than abstractly, while keeping content similar. We demonstrate the effect across different types of uncertainty, product ads and slogans, three different languages, and a range of products, increasing the external validity of the findings. The results indicate that the effectiveness of concrete communication is critically determined by the level of (un)certainty people experience, which provides important insights for advertisers and communication officers.

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
Date Deposited: 09 May 2023 11:02
Date of first compliant deposit: 25 Apr 2023
Subjects: Advertising
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2024 15:08
URI: https://lbsresearch.london.edu/id/eprint/2860

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