Vividness Can Undermine the Persuasiveness of Messages

Kurt P. Frey*, Alice H. Eagly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

92 Scopus citations


Research that presented messages on 2 social issues tested the idea that vividness effects are most likely when message recipients are not constrained to pay attention to the information. When a low level of attentional constraint was established by presenting a message to Ss in a seemingly incidental manner, vivid messages were less memorable and less persuasive than pallid messages. Process data suggested that the vivid elements in a message (i.e., colorful language, picturesque examples, and provocative metaphors) interfered with Ss' reception of its essential meaning and thereby reduced its memorability and persuasiveness. In contrast, when Ss' attention was constrained by instructing them to attend to a message, its vividness had no impact on their memory for its contents or on its persuasiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-44
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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