Edited by Marianna Bolognesi and Gerard J. Steen
[Human Cognitive Processing 65] 2019
► pp. 121–143
Chapter 6. Determinants of abstractness and concreteness and their persuasive effects
The writing guideline to avoid abstractness and to use concrete language instead has a long and well-deserved reputation. Nevertheless, it is not clear what constitutes concrete language. In this chapter we report two studies. The first investigates the determinants of concreteness and abstractness using a rating task. The results show that for all word classes sensory perceptibility is an important component and that the determinants specificity and drawability/filmability vary with word class. In the second study, we used the insights from study 1 to manipulate a text from the National Budgeting Institute (Nibud) that addresses adolescents from different educational levels. The results only show effects of educational level on comprehension and persuasive power; no effects of concreteness were found. The studies raise issues about the validity of the writing guideline to be concrete.