Comparing the persuasive effects of narrative versus statistical messages: A meta-analytic review
Reinhart, Amber Marie
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Communication researchers have long debated whether a narrative message or a statistical message is more persuasive when trying to influence audience members to adopt a certain point of view. Allen and Preiss (1997) conducted a meta-analysis on this topic and found statistical messages to be more persuasive than narrative messages by a small margin, r = .101. Based on certain methodological concerns with the study, the results of the Allen and Preiss review are deemed unreliable and warrant further review. A random-effects meta-analysis of 23 studies was conducted comparing narrative messages to statistical messages. The current meta-analysis revealed no significant differences among message types when all outcome measures (message reactions, attitudes, and behavioral intentions) were compared collectively. When the outcome measures were explored independently, the meta-analysis illustrated only one statistically significant difference. This significant difference was found when comparing narrative and statistical messages along attitude measures, r = .099, p = .015, giving narrative messages a small, but significant, advantage over the statistical messages. Implications and future research based on these results are discussed.