Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Natalie Shook


Two studies were conducted to investigate how the use of different types of language affects attitudes. Participants scrutinized arguments supporting a hypothetical toothpaste that differed in terms of argument strength (strong versus weak) and linguistic abstractness (abstract versus concrete) and subsequently evaluated the toothpaste. In addition, half of the participants in the second study were subjected to a cognitive load manipulation (i.e., rehearsing a ten-digit number) in order to limit their level of cognitive elaboration. Results indicated that strong arguments and those containing concrete descriptions led to more positive attitudes about the toothpaste, whereas weak messages comprised of abstract terms gave rise to the least favorable evaluations. These findings represent the first demonstration of the effect of language type on attitudes and suggest that future research into the functions of differential linguistic abstractness in a persuasive context will broaden our understanding of attitude change.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2009

Included in

Psychology Commons