Beyond Counterarguing: Simple Elaboration, Complex Integration, and Counterelaboration in Response to Variations in Narrative Focus and Sidedness


Corresponding author: Jeff Niederdeppe; e-mail:


This study attempts to advance theorizing about narrative persuasion by explicating types of thoughts, beyond counterarguing, generated in response to a short narrative with persuasive intent. We examine responses to four types of narratives (focus: individual vs. community; by sidedness: one- vs. two-sided) about causes and solutions for obesity in an attempt to increase support for policies to address the issue. Using a randomized experiment (n = 245), we show that narrative focus and sidedness interact to produce different patterns of thoughts, attributions, and policy support. Simple elaboration, counterelaboration, and counterarguing predicted causal attributions and policy support, but only simple elaboration mediated message effects on intended persuasive outcomes. We conclude by discussing the study's contributions to communication theory and practice.