The Role of Structural Signals in Environmental Advertisements - comparing bulleted lists, numbered lists and paragraphs.

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Every day, consumers are exposed to persuasive messages through advertisements, flyers or other documents. Increasing its effectiveness is, thus, important and might be reached by different means such as providing visual structure. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to investigate the role of structural signals in a persuasive context and, more specifically, the effects of bulleted and numbered lists on recall and persuasion. Due to the visual structure provided by bulleted and numbered lists, both were expected to be more persuasive and recalled better than arguments without structural signals. Furthermore, numbered lists who additionally provide count of the number of arguments were expected to be remembered better and more persuasive than bulleted lists. To investigate these predictions, an online experiment was conducted which was designed as between-subjects with one factor (structural signals) consisting of three levels (numbered list, bulleted list, no structural signal). 123 participants took part in the study and had to fill out an English online questionnaire about an environmental advertisement. They were randomly assigned to one of the three conditions. The results revealed a positive effect of both numbered and bulleted lists on recall compared to text with no structural signals. No significantly different effect of numbered and bulleted lists on recall was found. In addition, findings did not display an effect of structural signals on persuasion. These findings suggest that structural signals alone may not have a strong effect on persuasion. However, the results seem to implicate that advertisers, governmental institutions or other organization could make use of either bulleted or numbered lists when structuring arguments of an environmental ad to increase its recall. Keywords: persuasiveness, structural signals, numbered lists, bulleted lists, environmental advertisements
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