The Foreign Language Effect on Persuasion in Drug Prevention Campaigns.

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The foreign language effect (FLE) is a well-researched topic in the communication world. However, outside of moral dilemmas, persuasion is left out of the field of investigation. Given the importance of health campaigns, the foreign language effect on persuasion is researched using drug prevention campaigns. The research question was: ‘To what extent does the foreign language effect (FLE) have an influence on persuasion (attitude towards the ad, attitude towards drugs and behavioural intention) in drug prevention campaigns for native speakers of Spanish with English as a second language?’. The study had a 2x2 between-subjects design, with language (Spanish and English) and appeal (emotional and rational) as factors. A total of 173 Spanish natives evaluated one out of four possible anti-drug advertisements. The results show that language did not have an influence on persuasion, whereas appeal did have an effect in which emotional ads were indicated to be more emotional and influential than rational ads. This research sets itself apart from the existing literature by including the underlying mechanism of persuasion (emotionality, cognitive effect, rationality) into the study, which had significant results of appeal, meaning that the emotional appeal had a greater influence on the mechanism of persuasion than the rational appeal. Moreover, the Spanish emotional ads showed significant effects indicating that Spaniards seeing the ad in their own language thought the emotional advertisement had more persuasive influence than the rational one. This investigation shows insights into the workings of the FLE, in which there is no difference for Spanish natives with a profound English level. These findings contribute to designing prevention campaigns by concluding that the language does not matter greatly, but utilising emotional appeals do aid the persuasiveness of the advertisement.
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