Communication modality as a determinant of message persuasiveness and message comprehensibility

Shelly Chaiken*, Alice H. Eagly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


299 undergraduates were exposed to either an easy- or difficult-to-understand persuasive message presented via the written, audiotaped, or videotaped modality. With difficult messages, both persuasion and comprehension of persuasive material were found to be greater when the message was written, compared to videotaped or audiotaped. With easy messages, persuasion was greatest for a videotaped message, moderate when audiotaped, and least when written, but comprehension was equivalent regardless of modality. The persuasion and comprehension findings, as well as results on other variables, are discussed within a framework that considers the effect of communication modality on the capacity for effective reception of information and on the tendency to yield to information. The communicator's nonverbal expressions of confidence, manipulated within audiotaped and videotaped conditions, did not affect opinions. Discussion focuses on the generalizability of the findings across message content.(35 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-614
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1976


  • comprehension of easy &
  • difficult-to-understand meassages, college students
  • written vs audiotaped vs videotaped communication modalities, persuasion &

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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