Foreign language effect on emotional persuasive communication

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As English has become the primary tool for global communication and with the growing number of bilingual speakers, advertising content is presented in either the lingua franca English or the target audience’s native language. However, little is known about how the foreign language effect influences Dutch-English bilinguals on an emotional level and how it affects attitude change and behavioral intention regarding climate change. Therefore, this study aimed to examine whether emotional appeals on persuasive communication would be more effective in L1 (Dutch) than in L2 (English). In a between-subject design, Dutch-English bilinguals viewed an emotional message regarding climate change either in English or Dutch. Subsequently, through a questionnaire, they rated the perceived emotionality of the message, their attitude towards climate change, and their behavioral intention. The statistical analysis showed that neither Dutch nor English messages differed significantly in terms of emotionality, attitude towards climate change, and behavioral intention. The reason the foreign language effect was not found could be explained by the high proficiency of English of the participants. For marketers, the results suggest that advertisement content can be standardized due to the high proficiency and usage of English in the Netherlands.
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