Rhetorical figures in headings and their effect on text processing: the moderating role of information relevance and text length

B.A. Huhmann, D.L. Mothersbaugh, G.R. Franke
2002 IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication  
Professionals involved in the creation of text-based communication face a number of challenges. These include overburdened and often uninterested users juxtaposed with the writer's desire to communicate relevant topical information. Uninvolved users are likely to ignore the message. This may be exacerbated by increases in text length designed to increase the amount and/or detail of information to be communicated. An experiment was conducted to examine the effect of rhetorical figures in text
more » ... dings as to how users read and process the text (hereafter, readership, as used in marketing). To the extent that higher levels of text readership increase user knowledge and skills, enhance topic-related attitudes, and facilitate beneficial topic-related behaviors, higher readership should yield desirable communication outcomes. Headings with rhetorical figures were hypothesized to enhance readership, particularly under conditions generally associated with relatively low readership, namely, lower perceived information relevance and longer text. Results generally support rhetorical figures' abilities to enhance readership, especially with longer texts. IEEE Bruce A. Huhmann is an assistant professor of marketing at New Mexico State University. His Ph.D. is from The University of Alabama. With his coauthors, he has conducted extensive research on the effects of rhetorical language on the processing of information. Some results of this research have recently appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research. His other research interests include the impact of culture on communication and the effect of emotional language on memory and comprehension. He has also published articles in the
doi:10.1109/tpc.2002.1029956 fatcat:e4e6a2baknfz5mfrksbuav7rk4