Persuasiveness of an emotional message addressing climate change: The effect of using an L1 or an L2.

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The main research topic of the current study is the difference in persuasiveness of an emotional message in a first (L1) or in a second language (L2). The research question which has been investigated is ‘does the use of an L1 or an L2 in emotional appeals addressing climate change have an effect on the persuasiveness of the message?’. As climate change is an urgent issue nowadays, it is a relevant topic of study on how people are best persuaded to act against global warming. To investigate this effect of language on persuasive communication, an experiment was conducted in the form of a questionnaire. The independent variable tested was ‘language’ with two levels: Dutch (L1) and English (L2). The dependent variables in this study were attitude, behavioural intention and perceived emotionality. Subjects were asked to read an emotional text in either their L1 (Dutch) or their L2 (English) about a farmer and his family who were a victim of climate change. After reading the text, they answered questions about their attitude towards climate change, their behavioural intention towards the proposed behaviour and the perceived emotionality of the text. A series of independent samples t-tests showed no significant effect of the emotional message in L1 (Dutch) and L2 (English) regarding attitude, behavioural intention and emotionality. An explanation of this result could be that participants already had strong attitudes and pre-made beliefs about climate change, which could have influenced the manipulation. However, future research is necessary to investigate the results to a deeper extent
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