Program Group Director: Dr. Julia van Weert
The program group Persuasive Communication addresses communication that is intended to achieve specific persuasive goals, as is the case in, for instance, marketing communication, health education, and public information campaigns. The research is aimed at understanding the dynamics that shape uses and effects of mediated persuasive communication. We study factors that explain individuals' selective attention to and their processing of campaigns, as well as factors that contribute to cognitive, emotional, and behavioral persuasion effects.
Research within this program comprises a variety of aspects that shape the effects of persuasive communication: personality aspects, situational factors, medium-related factors, message content, and the process of persuasion itself. Three lines of research are proposed, having as a common denominator the aim to study effects of persuasive communication in a time where messages are integrated in media content, customized to meet the audience's interests, and where content is increasingly user-determined.
The first research line is the intertwining of media content and persuasion. In brand placement, for instance, messages are placed in regular TV programs or games. Another field where persuasive messages are integrated is entertainment education. Here the media content is especially produced to carry the persuasive message. Key questions are how people cope with entertainment persuasion, whether they notice these messages, and what are intended and unintended consequences of these ixtures of persuasive messages and media content? These questions are to be addressed from different angles, from an individual psychological perspective, from a developmental perspective as well as from a marketing perspective. In addition, this research area calls for explicit as well as implicit measurement techniques to be able to determine the full range of possible effects of these subtle forms of persuasive communication.
The second research line takes a starting point in new interactive media and the many opportunities they create for customizing information based on user data. Customization strategies based on personal or preference data are increasingly being applied in newsletters, campaign materials and business media in order to raise attention and to gratify specific information needs. Although current technology makes obtaining personal information easier, we lack a true understanding of the effects of such personalized communication. A key objective is to gain a detailed understanding of the effects of customized communication in two applied fields of persuasive communication: Within health communication where information is tailored to the information needs of patients, and within marketing communications where information is being customized according to characteristics of customers, their interests or, in the case of online communication, their previous clicking on internet pages. Not only persuasion effects are studied here, but also privacy issues are taken into account.
The third line deals with the increased empowerment of individuals in society. New research is developed to study the impact of interpersonal communication in the success of health campaigns. Interpersonal communication is also studied within social media, for instance in studying review websites and other forms of electronic Worth-of-Mouth (eWOM), and in actively engaging with brands on the Internet.
For a summary of the current Persuasive Communication PhD research projects go to:
For more information about the Master Persuasive Communication go to: