Caffeine, Cognition, and Persuasion: Evidence for Caffeine Increasing the Systematic Processing of Persuasive Messages


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Pearl Martin, School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia. E-mail:


Caffeine is known to increase arousal, attention, and information processing–all factors implicated in facilitating persuasion. In a standard attitude-change paradigm, participants consumed an orange-juice drink that either contained caffeine (3.5 mg/kg body weight) or did not (placebo) prior to reading a counterattitudinal communication (anti-voluntary euthanasia). Participants then completed a thought-listing task and a number of attitude scales. The first experiment showed that those who consumed caffeine showed greater agreement with the communication (direct attitude: voluntary euthanasia) and on an issue related to, but not contained in, the communication (indirect attitude: abortion). The order in which direct and indirect attitudes were measured did not affect the results. A second experiment manipulated the quality of the arguments in the message (strong vs. weak) to determine whether systematic processing had occurred. There was evidence that systematic processing occurred in both drink conditions, but was greater for those who had consumed caffeine. In both experiments, the amount of message-congruent thinking mediated persuasion. These results show that caffeine can increase the extent to which people systematically process and arc influenced by a persuasive communication.