The effectiveness of regulatory (in)congruent ads: the moderating role of an ad’s rational versus emotional tone

Erlinde Cornelis, Leen Adams and Veroline Cauberghe

Ghent University

Introduction

Messages that are factually equivalent, but framed differently, lead to differences in persuasion (Yi & Baumgartner 2009). Recently, framing in terms of outcome focus (i.e. a promotion versus prevention outcome focus) have received increased academic interest (e.g. Kramer & Yoon 2007; Yi & Baumgartner 2009). This type of framing has often been linked to the self-regulatory focus theory of Higgins (1997) (Yi & Baumgartner 2009). This theory proposes that two basic motivational systems regulate human behaviour: (1) a promotion focus, or a focus on ideal goals (i.e. hopes and wishes, or the maximisation of successes or positive results, e.g. I hope that using sunscreen will protect me), and (2) a prevention focus or a focus on ought goals (i.e. responsibilities and duties or the minimisation of losses or negative results, e.g. I should use sunscreen to avoid the negative consequences of the sun).