Three studies test several mechanisms of cognitive bridging, or how a strategic communication message functions to connect the abstract goal of an individual with the specific means to achieve the goal. Across all of the experiments (n = 276, n = 209, n = 145), it was demonstrated that participants who received an induced bridging mechanism were more likely to produce cognitive bridging outputs and report more abstract responses than participants who did not receive a bridging technique. We do not find the same pattern of results among participants who received an integrated bridging technique. Taken together, these studies provide evidence that how abstractly or concretely an individual is thinking can be influenced by abstraction cues planted within a strategic message, providing promise for messaging efforts at the moment of decision. In other words, the level of abstract thinking an individual is carrying into an exposure situation is possible to change using cues within the message itself. This is the first article to juxtapose the induced and integrated mechanisms of cognitive bridging.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research reported in this article was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation [SES-1260870].
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