The effect of second language and sensory description.

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This study aimed to generate knowledge on healthy food marketing through the research question; ‘how can language be used in advertisements to encourage healthy food choices?’. Research on language use in advertisements could help to reduce the rising obesity rates through more effective marketing of healthy food options. The specific language effects investigated were description types of healthy foods (sensory/neutral/health-conscious) and L1/L2 effects. Namely, sensory language might create food-related mental simulations through its link with the senses and emotions. These mental simulations might, in turn, increase the estimated desirability of food and, subsequently, the purchase intention and attitude towards the advertisement. Health-conscious language might have the opposite effect, as it would not have the same appeal to the senses and emotions and, thus, might cause the food items to be perceived as less desirable. Moreover, L1 or L2 use in advertisements was proposed to have a more positive effect on these variables, either through the link to emotions, the senses and memory (L1) or through weaker affective processing of potential negative stimuli (L2). Furthermore, L1 or L2 use might, in turn, strengthen the effect of sensory description. Consequently, an experiment was conducted. The participants saw multiple advertisements, each with different description types, all in either their L1 (Dutch) or L2 (English). The advertisements were followed by questionnaires. Description type and second language did not affect the participants’ desire and purchase intention of the food, nor their attitude towards the advertisement. These results might imply that more research is necessary to establish the precise effect of language on healthy food marketing. However, there may also be factors such as proficiency or the participants’ awareness of the descriptions that might explain these results.
Faculteit der Letteren