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Contingent effects of anxiety on message elaboration and persuasion

Authors Sengupta, Jaideep
Johar, Gita Venkataramani
Issue Date 1999-05
Source Marketing Working Paper Series ; MKTG 99.140
Summary We extend previous research on the debilitating effects of anxiety to the context of message elaboration and persuasion. In two experiments, we manipulate anxiety by exploiting a naturally occurring stressful situation and examine its effects on subsequent message processing. Consistent with research documenting the cognitive deficits produced by anxiety, Experiment 1 shows that high anxiety results in less systematic message processing than low anxiety. We also document a boundary condition for this effect. When increased motivation to process the message can compensate for anxiety deficits (for example, while processing an anxiety-related message) anxiety differences in the amount of processing are no longer observed. Even for a highly involving anxiety-related message, however, differences exist in the type of processing across anxiety levels. Specifically, Experiment 2 shows that despite high levels of motivation, capacity pressures cause heuristic cues in the message to bias the nature of systematic processing such that they skew message processing (and hence, persuasion) in the direction of the cue.
Language English
Format Working paper
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