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The effects of narrative transportation and character identification on persuasion in the medium of comics




Minich, Matt, author
Plaisance, Patrick, advisor
Christen, Cindy, advisor
Lacy, Michael, committee member

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Though narrative messages have been used to persuade audiences for centuries, scholars have only recently begun to investigate the mechanisms behind the narrative persuasion process from a media effects perspective. Research has indicated that the processing of persuasion through narrative differs from the processing of persuasion through rhetorical messages (Slater & Rouner, 2002). Several models of the narrative persuasion process have emerged in the past 15 years (e.g., Slater & Rouner, 2002; Moyer-Guse, 2008; Busselle & Bilandzic, 2009), but no one is yet preferred among scholars. This study tested the extended-Elaboration Likelihood Model (Slater & Rouner, 2002), which posits that narrative persuasion is the result of engagement with a narrative and its characters, as applied to comics that address a local controversy: hydraulic fracturing or "fracking". A group of 236 undergraduate CSU students participated in a 2x2 pre-test/post-test experimental design, in which subjects were presented with one of two persuasive comics (one pro-fracking, one anti-fracking) and levels Narrative Transportation, Character Identification, and Persuasion were assessed. Statistically significant levels of Persuasion were reported by those subjects presented with the anti-fracking comic, but a regression model did not find that Narrative Transportation or Character Identification predicted Persuasion to a statistically significant degree. Though their validity is limited in some ways, these findings suggest that the e-ELM may not adequately explain the narrative persuasion process in the context of comics.


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