You and Us: Causal Effects of Language Use on Consumers’ Perceptions of Brands

Three studies examine how subtle variations in language use can significantly affect consumers’ attitudes toward real-world brands. The studies indicate that customers and non-customers react in opposite directions to seemingly inconsequential pronoun variations in persuasive messages. Moreover, the effect of pronoun use on consumers’ attitudes can reverse as a function of the specific brand domain (e.g., banking vs. healthcare). These moderated effects are found to be mediated by perceptions of brand honesty. These findings demonstrate the unexplored role of language in persuasion and highlight the fact that customers and non-customers may extract divergent meanings from minor language variations.


Aner Sela and Christian Wheeler (2008) ,"You and Us: Causal Effects of Language Use on Consumers’ Perceptions of Brands", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 1027-1027.


Aner Sela, Stanford University
Christian Wheeler, Stanford University


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35 | 2008

Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More


Decreasing Impatience with Bundled Donations

Sachin Banker, University of Utah, USA

Read More


Narrow Algorithmic Searches Perpetuate Bias

Eugina (Wai Lun) Leung, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Oleg Urminsky, University of Chicago, USA

Read More


Pangs from Persuasion: When Recommendations Undermine Consumers’ Social Worth

Suzanne Galia Rath, Queens University, Canada
Laurence Ashworth, Queens University, Canada
Nicole Robitaille, Queens University, Canada

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.