Poster E19, Monday, March 27, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
The effect of narrative context on persuasive message processing
Matthew Bezdek1, Richard Gerrig2, Tiffany Nguyen1, William Wenzel2, Eric Schumacher1; 1Georgia Institute of Technology, 2Stony Brook University
Past research has reported that medial prefrontal regions are recruited during the processing of strong compared to weak persuasive messages. Other work has suggested that transporting narratives may cause readers to process persuasive arguments on a deeper level, possibly through reduced counter-arguing. We probed for behavioral and neuroimaging evidence that narrative context affects the way in which arguments are processed. To test this hypothesis, we presented a series of strong and weak arguments concerning public health topics to participants and asked them to rate the strength of the arguments. To a second set of participants, we presented auditory and text versions of the arguments as we collected functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) volumes. Narrative context (whether arguments were presented within stores or on their own) was manipulated between groups. Data from the set of behavioral participants showed an interaction effect for argument strength and narrative context: strong arguments were rated higher than weak arguments when presented alone, but this difference was attenuated when the arguments were presented in stories. A mixed ANOVA was performed on the fMRI data comparing the effects of argument strength and narrative context. This analysis revealed that argument strength and narrative context evoke greater activation in medial prefrontal regions. These cognitive and neural findings contribute to our understanding of theories of narrative transportation.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotional responding