Identification as a Mechanism of Narrative Persuasion

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CRXXXX10.1177/0093650211408594De Graaf et al.Communication Research © The Author(s) 2011 Reprints and permission: http://www. sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav

Identification as a Mechanism of Narrative Persuasion

Communication Research 39(6) 802–823 © The Author(s) 2012 Reprints and permission: sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0093650211408594 http://crx.sagepub.com

Anneke de Graaf1, Hans Hoeken2, José Sanders2, and Johannes W. J. Beentjes1

Abstract To provide a causal test of identification as a mechanism of narrative persuasion, this study uses the perspective from which a story is told to manipulate identification experimentally and test effects on attitudes. In experiment 1, 120 participants read a story that was told either from the perspective of one character or another character, with both characters having opposing goals. Results showed that perspective influenced identification and story consistency of attitudes. Moreover, identification with one of the characters mediated the effect of perspective on attitudes. In experiment 2, 200 participants read a different story that was told from one of two perspectives, with both characters having opposing opinions. Results showed that identification with both characters mediated the effect of perspective on attitudes. The results of these experiments indicate that identification can be a mechanism of narrative persuasion. Keywords narrative persuasion, identification, narrative engagement, transportation, perspective

Identification as a Mechanism of Narrative Persuasion
It is by now well-established that narratives can have effects on readers’ real-world beliefs and attitudes (e.g., Appel & Richter, 2007; Diekman, McDonald, & Gardner, 2000; Strange & Leung, 1999). This phenomenon has been termed “narrative persuasion” and has attracted research interest from various disciplines such as health communication (Green, 2006), entertainment-education (Morgan, Movius, &

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