Motivation and Language Processing in Advertising to Bilingual Consumers

David Luna, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Laura A. Peracchio, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - Several studies have examined differences in language processing between monolingual speakers of different languages (e.g., Schmitt, Pan, and Tavassoli 1994, Tavassoli 1999). However, the unique characteristics of bilingual language processing remain largely unexplored. The purpose of the present study is to apply and extend a psycholinguistics theory to an advertising context. This theory, the Revised Hierarchical Model or RHM (Kroll 1993), specifies the cognitive structure underlying language processes in the minds of bilingual individuals. The present study extends the RHM by identifying a moderator of the relationships predicted by the model: bilingual’s processing motivation.
[ to cite ]:
David Luna and Laura A. Peracchio (2003) ,"Motivation and Language Processing in Advertising to Bilingual Consumers", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, eds. Punam Anand Keller and Dennis W. Rook, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 352-353.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, 2003     Pages 352-353

MOTIVATION AND LANGUAGE PROCESSING IN ADVERTISING TO BILINGUAL CONSUMERS

David Luna, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Laura A. Peracchio, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

EXTENDED ABSTRACT -

Several studies have examined differences in language processing between monolingual speakers of different languages (e.g., Schmitt, Pan, and Tavassoli 1994, Tavassoli 1999). However, the unique characteristics of bilingual language processing remain largely unexplored. The purpose of the present study is to apply and extend a psycholinguistics theory to an advertising context. This theory, the Revised Hierarchical Model or RHM (Kroll 1993), specifies the cognitive structure underlying language processes in the minds of bilingual individuals. The present study extends the RHM by identifying a moderator of the relationships predicted by the model: bilingual’s processing motivation.

The Revised Hierarchical Model

The RHM specifies that verbal stimuli are easier to process in one’s first language than in one’s second language. The RHM, therefore, implies that messages in the consumers’ first language will be remembered better than messages in their second language. This is mainly due to demands on processing capacity and attentional biases at time of encoding of second language messages and will happen even in the case of individuals relatively fluent in two languages. A question arises from this discussion: Will this prediction apply in all cases, or should we expect other variables to moderate the effects of language processing? Study 1 is a preliminary exploration of need for cognition as a moderator of language effects. Study 2 further tests the role of need for cognition and examines the effect of a manipulation of processing motivation on language effects.

Study 1

Hypotheses. The RHM would predict that, in general, a message in the individual’s first language will result in greater recognition than a message in the individual’s second language. On the other hand, Need for Cognition leads us to predict that high NFC subjects will tend to exhibit greater recognition of a complex stimulus than low NFC subjects. Both effects can be integrated into a single model characterized by a significant interaction.

H1: Low-NFC individuals will remember ads in their first language better than ads in their second language.

H2: High-NFC individuals will remember ads in their first language and ads in their second language equally well.

Results. The results show that the interaction between language and NFC was statistically significant (F(1,45)=11.48, p<.001). The pattern of the two-way interaction offers support for the hypotheses. Within the low NFC group, there was a significant difference between subjects in the L1 condition and subjects in the L2 condition (x=5.64 vs. x=3.90; F(1,45)=11.26, p<.001). This difference indicates that the recognition scores of low NFC subjects were higher when they were presented with L1 ads than when they were presented with L2 ads. Next, within the high NFC group, the recognition scores of subjects who had been exposed to L1 ads (x=4.69) were compared to those of subjects in the L2 condition (x=5.33). The analysis indicated a lack of a significant difference (p>.18). Hence, high NFC subjects did not remember ads in one language better than ads in the other language, as predicted by H2.

Study 2

Hypotheses. In this study we added another independent variable, the explicit manipulation of processing motivation, to examine its possible interaction with need for cognition. In particular, we expected that under low motivation, both low and high NFC bilingual consumers would not focus on the copy of the ads (Petty, Cacioppo and Schumann 1983).

H3: Under low motivation, first and second language ads will result in similar levels of memory for the ad content for both low and high NFC individuals.

In the high motivation condition, however, consumers will presumably focus on the ads’ copy. Hence, first language ads, which are easily processed and encoded into long term memory (Kroll and de Groot 1997), should result in greater memory than second language ads but only for low need for condition individuals. These individuals are not intrinsically motivated to process difficult messages, so we would not expect them to process L2 messages sufficiently as to remember them at a later time as well as they would remember L1 messages.

H4: Under high motivation, first language ads will result in higher memory than second language ads for low need for cognition individuals.

On the other hand, high need for cognition consumers who are exposed to second language ads will be intrinsically motivated to process and elaborate upon these challenging messages. Therefore, we expect L2 memory to increase, reducing the L1 memory superiority.

H5: Under high motivation, first and second language ads will result in similar memory for high need for cognition individuals.

Hypotheses 4 and 5 are consistent with the findings of study 1. Under high motivation, we expect a language superiority of L1 ads over L2 ads with respect to memory for low NFC subjects but not for high NFC subjects.

Results. In the low motivation group, both the recall and the recognition measures exhibited the predicted pattern. No differences due to language were found (F’s<1). Hence, H3 is supported by our results. In the high motivation group, we found that for low need for cognition individuals there was a superiority of first language ads over second language ads for both measures (Recall: x=4.20 vs. x=1.09, F=13.14, p<.001; Recognition: x=.89 vs. x=.45, F=7.37, p<.01). This finding lends support to H4. Further, as predicted by H5, the L1 superiority disappears for high need for cognition individuals (F’s<1).

Conclusion

By suggesting that cognitive factors play an important role on ad processing by bilinguals, our paper adds a new dimension to the existing body of consumer research. For example, one of the key findings of our research is that highly motivated, high NFC individuals can withdraw their attention from an ad’s copy and turn it toward non-verbal cues in the ad if the ad’s copy is too unchallenging (L1 ads). However, if the ad’s copy is perceived as relatively challenging (L2 ads), they will tend to elaborate and focus upon the copy. This may mean that the need for cognition construct has different implications for bilinguals and monolinguals.

REFERENCES

Kroll, Judith F. (1993), "Accessing Conceptual Representations For Words In A Second Language," in The Bilingual Lexicon, Robert Schreuder and Bert Weltens, eds., Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Co.

Kroll, Judith F. and Annette de Groot (1997), "Lexical and Conceptual Memory in the Bilingual: Mapping Form to Meaning in Two Languages," in Tutorials in Bilingualism: Psycholinguistic Perspectives, eds. Annette de Groot and Judith Kroll, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum & Associates, 169-200.

Petty, Richard, John T. Cacioppo, and David Schumann, (1983)"Central and Peripheral Routes to Advertising Effectiveness: The Moderating Role of Involvement," Journal of Consumer Research, 10 (2), 135-147.

Schmitt, Bernd, Yigang Pan, and Nader Tavassoli (1994), "Language and Consumer Memory: The Impact of Linguistic Differences Between Chinese and English," Journal of Consumer Research, 21(December), 419-431.

Tavassoli, Nader (1999), "Temporal and Associative Memory in Chinese and English," Journal of Consumer Research, 26 (September), 170-181.

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