Blinded Me with Science: Trivial Graphs and Formulas Make Ads More Persuasive
Tal, Aner and Brian Wansink (2016), “Blinded with Science: Trivial Graphs and Formulas Increase Ad Persuasiveness and Belief in Product Efficacy,” Public Understanding of Science, 25:1, 117-125.
19 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2014 Last revised: 29 Apr 2017
Date Written: September 24, 2014
Appearing scientific is persuasive, even when unmerited. Including simple elements such as graphs (studies 1-2) or a chemical formula (study 3) increased belief in a medication’s efficacy. This appears to be due to the association of such elements with science, rather than increased comprehensibility, use of visuals, or recall. Further, study 2 shows a these effects are moderated by a person’s belief in science. Overall, the studies contribute to past research by demonstrating that even trivial elements can increase public persuasion even when they do not indicate scientific expertise or objective support.
Keywords: media and science, public understanding of science, rhetoric of science and technology, science and pop culture, science communications, scientific literacy, persuasion
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