Positive Emphasis and You-Attitude: An Empirical Study

Shelby, Annette N.; Reinsch Jr, N. Lamar
October 1995
Journal of Business Communication;Oct98, Vol. 32 Issue 4, p303
Academic Journal
We measured objective and subjective characteristics of 99 memoranda and derived indices of selected message characteristics (positive emphasis and you-attitude) and message reinforcers (benefits and threats). Employed, business practitioners reacted to the memoranda as though the messages had been received at work and reported perceived message tone, commitment to comply with the message, and reader satisfaction. We used regression analysis to test several relationships predicted from a stimulus-response model. The study (a) provides some of the first empirical support for the concepts of positive emphasis and you-attitude; (b) supports the stimulus-response model developed in the paper, suggesting that it might merit additional research; (c) raises questions about current academic conceptions of positive emphasis and you-attitude; and (d) suggests additional research questions concerning, for example, the virtues of brevity and the effects of message organization.


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