||By carrying out the principle of “One person, one vote”, Taiwan is regarded as the bellwether of democracy in Asia. In order to win voters’ support, candidates have to employ various strategies in campaign. Among various ways, campaign advertising is viewed as the most effective way to result in impacts on voters. However, few studies on campaign advertising have been done on the effect of minor language variations in advertising contents. Barack Obama used “Yes, ‘we’ can” as a slogan to win the United States presidential election of 2008; the Nationalist Party in Taiwan used “We are ready” to create the success for the candidates. Both examples reveal that minor language variations seems to work. Additionally, some research has been devoted on the persuasive effects of distinct message orientation (concrete vs. abstract) of candidates’ political address on voters. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to explore the effect of minor language variations of content words and function words on voter’s advertising-effect responses. Moreover, this paper discusses the moderating role of time-of-releasing advertisement, voter party identification, and advertisement valence. The mediating effect of candidate trust is also tested based on relationship expectations between candidates and voters.|
The authors refer pronoun use and message orientation as core variables throughout this paper. Two field experiments were conducted to examine the minor language variations and their impacts on voters. The first experiment with 224 valid samples also discusses how time-of-releasing advertisement (distant vs. near) (Experiment 1) moderates voters’ responses towards minor language variations. The second experiment with 593 valid samples further discusses how the interaction between advertisement valence (positive vs. negative) and voter party identification moderates the effects of minor language variations (Experiment 2).
The experimental results reveal the following. (1) Minor language variations do affect voters’ responses toward campaign advertising. (2) When the time-of-releasing advertisement is distant from the voting day, voters have more favorable responses towards the pronoun use of “candidate and you”. When the time-of-releasing advertisement is near, voters have more favorable responses towards the pronoun use of “we”. No matter what time-of-releasing is, concrete message is more effective than abstract one. (3) In positive valence advertisements, voters whose party identification is the same as candidates’ have more favorable responses towards the pronoun - “we” and “abstract” messages; voters holding different party identification have more favorable responses towards the pronoun - “candidate and you” and “concrete” messages. (4) In negative valence advertisements, voters holding the same party identification as candidates’ have more favorable responses towards the pronoun - “candidate and you” and “concrete” messages”; voters holding different party identification have more favorable responses towards the pronoun - “candidate and you”, but the message orientation doesn’t work. (5) The effects of minor language variations on pure independents and independent leaners are different. Implications of above findings of the effects of minor language variations in campaign advertisements are discussed.