Language choice in narrative persuasion.

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The current study compared a story in an L1 and an L2 to see to what extent they differed in their persuasive effect. A between-subjects experiment was set up with in which 210 Spanish unbalanced bilinguals took part, who read either a narrative in their L1 (Spanish), in their L2 (English) or who did not read a narrative (control group). In the experimental groups, participants’ language proficiency, comprehension, transportation, identification, emotions and adoption of story-consistent beliefs were measured with a questionnaire. Results showed that English proficiency significantly predicted participants’ perceived comprehension in the English condition. Also, comprehension, transportation and identification were higher among participants who read the story in their L1 than for participants who read it in their L2, and comprehension was a significant predictor of transportation and identification. With regard to story-consistent beliefs, the participants in the experimental conditions showed more consistency with the story than the participants in the control condition for only one of the two belief measures, although the L1 and L2 conditions did not differ from each other. Identification was shown to be a significant predictor of the beliefs. These results would seem to lend support to the assumption that a narrative in an L1 is more effective than a narrative in an L2, because of the higher levels of transportation, identification and comprehension of the story in Spanish as compared to the story in English.
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