The impact of structural signals in advertisements promoting environmentally friendly behaviour – a comparison of Bulleted Lists, Numbered Lists and Paragraphs.

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Structural signals can fulfil a multitude of functions, two of those being improving recall and persuasiveness of documents. The general interest in structural signals is high, as they can be used in several contexts and document types. Furthermore, improving recall and persuasiveness of documents is the goal of many people designing materials, for example to spread awareness about and convincing people of specific environmentally friendly behaviour. The present study compares the recall and persuasiveness of three advertisements, two of which include structural signals, advocating for the environmentally friendly behaviour of deleting emails. The experiment with 123 participants was assessed through an online questionnaire. Participants were presented with four arguments advocating for deleting unwanted and unneeded emails which were either structured as (1) a bulleted list, (2) a numbered list, (3) or a paragraph. A significant effect of structural signals was found on recall. Bulleted lists and numbered lists both were found to lead to higher recall than paragraphs. However, no significant effect of structural signals on persuasiveness was found. The results suggest improved recall of arguments through structural signals, but do not indicate an advantage of numbered lists over bulleted lists since no difference between these two conditions was found. The findings moreover suggest that the persuasiveness of deleting unwanted or unwanted emails does not depend on structural signals, but perhaps rather on other factors, such as the pre-existing motivation and knowledge of recipients. Keywords: persuasiveness, recall, structural signals, lists, list formats, pro-environmental advertisement, environment
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