Van der Goot, M. J., Bol, N., & Van Weert, J. C. M. (2020). Age differences in preferences for emotionally-meaningful versus knowledge-related appeals. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research. Advance online publication. doi:10.1515/commun-2019-0108
Socioemotional selectivity theory (SST), an influential life-span theory, suggests that older adults prefer persuasive messages that appeal to emotionally-meaningful goals over messages that appeal to knowledge-related goals, whereas younger adults do not show this preference. A mixed-factorial experiment was conducted to test whether older adults (≥65 years) differ from younger adults (25–45 years) in their preference for emotionally-meaningful appeals over knowledge-related appeals, when appeals are clearly developed in line with SST. For older adults we found the expected preference for emotionally-meaningful appeals for cancer centers but not for grocery stores and travel organizations. As expected, in most cases, younger adults did not show a preference. Implications for SST-based communication research and for practice are discussed.
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