Style Congruency and Persuasion: A Cross-cultural Study Into the Influence of Differences in Style Dimensions on the Persuasiveness of Business Newsletters in Great Britain and the Netherlands


Research problem: The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether style congruency on the dimensions succinct-elaborate and instrumental-affective influenced the persuasiveness of business newsletters in the Netherlands and Great Britain. Research question: Is a writing style more persuasive in a country with cultural preferences that are congruent with this writing style? Literature review: The purpose of the literature review was to present two theoretical frameworks for investigating cross-cultural differences in style preferences. Theories about cross-cultural differences in value orientations show that value orientations can be linked to cross-cultural differences in persuasion. Theories about cross-cultural differences in Communication styles show that preferences for particular Communication styles can be linked to cultural value orientations. Methodology: Two quantitative experimental studies were conducted among 344 business-to-business customers of a company in the Netherlands and Great Britain. Using seven-point scales, participants evaluated different versions of a newsletter on comprehensibility, attractiveness, and intention to order goods. Statistical analyses included general linear model (GLM) repeated measures and two-way ANOVAs. Results and discussion: Findings reveal limited differences between the Dutch and British participants in preferences for Communication styles. Consequently, it may not be worthwhile for organizations to adjust the style of their documents to preferences in different cultures. A limitation of the current study was that it only investigated style preferences for one particular business genre (i.e., newsletters). Future research should investigate stylistic preferences in other business genres and in other cultures.

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