TAI Assistant Professor Yan Huang Shares Research on Narrative Persuasion and Attitude Resistance

TAI Research Brown Bag by TAI Assistant Professor, Yan Huang.

On Friday, April 13, Yan Huang, Assistant Professor of Advertising in TAI at SMU, shared her research titled “Persuasion and Counter Persuasion: The Impact of Narratives in Health Promotion,” at the TAI Research Brown Bag.

Professor Huang’s research examines the effects and mechanisms of strategic media messages and technologies in shaping consumer psychology, especially as they relate to health and socially responsible advertising. Through her studies, she addresses a series of questions including,

  • Is attitude induced by narratives able to resist the influence of competing messages?
  • What are the psychological mechanisms underlying narratives’ influence on resistance?
  • Can narratives effectively persuade individuals when used for counter persuasion?
  • How do we use storytelling to help the public make better decisions?

Health public service advertising (PSA) is not processed in a vacuum. An effective health PSA must not only produce an immediate persuasive impact but also compete with counter messages from different interest groups. Prior literature supports narrative benefits in eliciting immediate health attitude change. However, its influence in a competitive scenario has yet to be tested.

When individuals are exposed to a campaign message, they think about it, but they don’t typically engage in actions immediately. There is a time lag, in which individuals can encounter other information, which may contradict with what they were previously exposed to – these are competing messages. Professor Yan Huang performed a series of studies in which attitudes were assessed after exposure to pro- and anti-radiotherapy messages, in both the conventional rhetoric and storytelling formats. Immediate reactions and the responses after counter persuasion were assessed and analyzed.

Major findings of Professor Huang’s studies include,

  • Campaign messages in story formats can lead to better retention of information, which could enhance audience resistance to counter persuasion.
  • The experiential processes associated with narrative exposure, such as identification with story characters and the feeling of “being transported” into the story world, can increase counter-arguing with competing messages.
  • Narrative messages are much more effective than rhetorical messages in communicating counter-attitudinal information.

After sharing her research Professor Huang discussed various theoretical and practical implications including,

  • Narrative persuasion research may benefit from focusing attention beyond the change in attitude intensity to other properties of attitude strength.
  • The mechanisms underlying the carryover effect of narratives in the face of a competing message are both cognitive and experiential.
  • The applicability of narrative persuasion theories in a competitive situation.
  • The strong potential of narrative campaign messages in altering attitude.

Temerlin Advertising Institute was honored to have Yan Huang for a lecture on her research. TAI is passionate about staying informed on all current topics in the advertising industry, hosting speakers periodically throughout the year.

Yan Huang holds a Ph.D. in mass communication from Pennsylvania State University. She teaches Consumer Behavior (ADV 2301) at SMU. Her work has appeared in such journals as American Behavioral Scientist, Health Communication, Journal of Communication, among others. Moreover, her research has been recognized with Top Paper Awards from the International Communication Association (ICA), the Association for the Education of Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) and the International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC).

Navigating the Waters of Data-Driven Storytelling at SXSW Interactive 2018

Temerlin Advertising Institute graduate students Jessica Phillips and Catherine Scholl

Complexity, Complexity, Complexity

In an enlightening talk about data-driven storytelling, we heard from a panel of professionals about how they combine art and scientific data to execute seamless storytelling in their companies. The panel consisted of Renee Lightner, User Experience Technologist at Viacom, Russell Goldenberg, Editor at Polygraph / The Pudding, and Alex Simoes, CTO at Datawheel. Each member of the panel provided unique insight into perspectives and paradigms within data-driven storytelling through the lens of each of their respective disciplines.

Lightner opened by explaining the importance of online versus print graphics. Online graphics allow users to see the full picture and interact with the content, allowing for a better experience. A strategy she keyed in on was “complexity,” repeating a visual over and over so the reader grasps the content. Additionally, she said it’s important to allow the opportunity for the reader to explore the data on their own. Graphics should inform the reader while still allowing room for them to explore and take in the information at their own time in their own way.

Goldenberg explained the process that The Pudding goes through when providing content.

  • Start with an idea. Collect data. Analyze. Present.

The first three phases explore, while guidance is the final outcome. Great data does not matter – unless, it can be explained with a great guide. As we enter a world of AI with more data and more accurate data, consumers will be overwhelmed if it is not curated in meaningful ways.

Simoes’ approach to storytelling integrates data, extracts and matches entities and indicators, and builds integrated stories. Entities can be, for example, Los Angeles or coal mining, while the indicators within these categories can be something like exports or employment. Together, this information leads to integrated stories on the economy, education, health, etc. The outcome must be aggregated data that is easy to read, interactive, and entertaining. These three ideas seem to be a central theme to creating rich storytelling.

This panel was just one of so many incredible talks that we have attended this week. The atmosphere is absolutely electric as people immerse themselves in SXSW Interactive and all Austin has to offer.

Shon Rathbone of Publicis Dallas Speaks at TAI Brown Bag

Shon Rathbone speaks at TAI Brown Bag
Shon Rathbone speaks at TAI Brown Bag

The Temerlin Advertising Institute welcomed Shon Rathbone of Publicis Dallas to speak as a part of their monthly Brown Bag meetings. Shon spoke about modern storytelling and how advertising can use this form of interactive storytelling to their advantage. Specifically, Shon pointed towards role-playing style video games and their ability to draw the viewer into the experience by allowing them to make decisions that influences how the story unfolds. Shon believes that by making an advertisement interactive, the audience will feel more engaged with the product and the ad. Marketers can engage viewers through various online content, such as YouTube videos or websites, to continue the story beyond the advertisement itself. The possibilities are endless, and Shon stressed the importance of teaching young advertising students the potential of interactive storytelling.

Shon discusses the use of modern storytelling in advertising
Shon discusses the use of modern storytelling in advertising

Shon is a recognized force in the advertising world and the lead creative at Publicis Dallas. He has built an award-winning creative team that has attracted blue-chip clients. Over the years, his work as been recognized by nearly every national and international awards show including Cannes, One Show, Communication Arts and Effie.

The Temerlin Advertising Institute Brown Bag meetings take place once a month during the academic year. Each meeting features one to two speakers that share their expertise in the advertising industry. These speakers have included TAI faculty, Communication Studies faculty, visiting professors, and Dallas Ft. Worth area advertising and communication professionals. If you are interested in speaking at a TAI Brown Bag meeting, please contact Dr. Yongjun Sung, Associate Professor for TAI, at ysung@smu.edu.