Maximizing Persuasion and Sharability
Presented at the Spring 2015 Student Research Day at Chapman University.
The traditional characteristics of persuasive messages have been well researched in Communication. More recently, Web 2.0 technology enables users to receive and to share (e.g., being reposted on Facebook, clicking on “share” on different platforms) persuasive messages directly with other users more quickly and broadly. The current research focuses on identifying the characteristics of messages that are both persuasive and sharable. An original experiment explored when these concepts align by inducing variations in established message characteristics that relate to persuasiveness (e.g., argument quality and emotional appeal). In addition, the experiment utilized a novel way to induce the perceived sharability of a message by using properties of Web 2.0, specifically aggregated user-representations (i.e., how many people viewed, liked, and shared an article). The results suggest that sharing ratio impacts peoples’ perception of whether or not an article will be popular, whether they are likely to comment on the article, or talk about it with their friends. Furthermore the sharing ratio in combination with the argument quality impact whether or not a person is surprised by the articles’ content. The argument quality was the greatest determinant in regard to whether or not people were likely to discuss the article with their friends.