“Family Values” and Political Persuasion: Impact of Kin-Related Rhetoric on Reactions to Political Campaigns1


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    We are grateful to Laura Cerasoli for her ideas and suggestions concerning this research; to Kelly Anne Burch, Robert Eder, Laurie Gonzagowski, Amy Pellerin, Kim Ratajczak, and Keith Richard for their help in gathering and coding the data; and to Norbert Kerr, Lawrence Messé, and especially an anonymous reviewer for their insightful comments on earlier drafts.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jennifer Garst, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824–1117.


Within the framework of dual-process models of persuasion, it was hypothesized that including references to kin in a persuasive speech might either (a) promote greater scrutiny of the message by making it seem more value-relevant, or (b) serve as a simple peripheral cue of value congruence. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents read a political speech that varied by argument quality (strong/weak), kin terms (absent/present), and the speaker's party affiliation. Results indicated that Democrats scrutinized the message more when kin terms were used, whereas such terms appeared to discourage message elaboration on the part of Republican participants, but only when used by an in-group member. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for the efficacy of political rhetoric using kin terms.