The moderating effect of manipulative intent and cognitive resources on the evaluation of narrative ads


  • The authors would like to thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.


This research examines how salience of manipulative intent affects the evaluation of ads that are presented in a narrative or expository format. Study 1 shows that when manipulative intent is not salient, narrative ads are evaluated more positively than expository ads because they trigger a narrative processing style. When manipulative intent is salient, however, consumers regard the advertiser's tactics more suspiciously and adopt an analytical processing style to evaluate both narrative and expository ads. As a result, the relative advantage of narrative ads over expository ads disappears. A mediational analysis reveals that these effects are mediated by inferences of manipulative intent. Furthermore, Study 2 shows that cognitive load moderates these effects and that the negative impact of manipulative intent is significantly attenuated when cognitive load is high. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.