Sep 2021

Narratives are persuasive because they are easier to understand: Examining processing fluency as a mechanism of narrative persuasion

Bullock, O.M., Shulman, H.C., & Huskey, R.

Frontiers in Communication

Abstract

Theory suggests that people are more persuaded by information presented within a narrative. We argue there is room for greater understanding about why this may be the case. Accordingly, we 1) examine whether narratives are indeed more persuasive than non-narratives and 2) evaluate two theoretical mechanisms that could be responsible for these effects. Results from a laboratory-based, preregistered experiment (N = 554) support our primary argument that narratives are processed more fluently (easily) than non-narratives, and when processing is eased, persuasion becomes more likely. This work offers a parsimonious and powerful explanation for the advantages of providing persuasive information within a narrative format and advances theory in narrative persuasion.

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