Exploring the persuasive effects of narratives and framing on the intention to acquire pension information

  • Ann-Kristin Braun Ann-Kristin Braun

The importance of pension planning has been increasing in the past years. Pension funds and marketers need to find pension communication tools to encourage people to take responsibility and inform themselves about their pension at an individual level. Two risk prevention techniques, namely narratives such as a personal story by a person and framing where
the content stays the same, but the wording differs, have shown to be successful interventions in the healthcare sector. The study at hand builds upon those findings and applies this knowledge to another risk-­‐related context – pension funds. Therefore, this study contributes to a better understanding of the usage of narratives and framing in the retirement context by looking at their effect on the core beliefs of the Retirement Belief Model. The research at hand is a randomized controlled trial with a factorial design including 5 conditions (narrative vs. non-­‐narrative, gain frame vs. loss frame and a control group). The study made use of whiteboard animation videos for the manipulation. A non-­‐probabilistic online panel in the Netherlands was conducted (N = 402) in order to test the effects of the five conditions on the different core beliefs. Several mediators including transportation, identification and emotion were tested to ensure that the narrative has the intended persuasive effect. The results reveal only a partly significant effect of narratives on the core beliefs compared to the non-­‐ narrative condition, but especially show in most cases to be superior to not having any intervention in place. Furthermore, the loss frame is, contrary to what was expected, not more effective than the gain frame in changing the core beliefs and the behavioral intention. Rather the opposite tendency was observed. No mediation effect of transportation, identification and emotion is found between the narrative condition and the core beliefs. Additionally, no difference is found between the narrative condition and the non-­‐narrative condition and each of the different mediators. However, higher transportation, higher identification and higher emotional effects show to increase behavioral intention and lead to several hypothesized effects. Yet, higher levels of transportation, identification and emotion are not caused by the manipulation at hand. Pension funds and marketers should prefer a narrative to not having any intervention in place when triggering Dutch people to get informed about their pension. Overall, the study gives a first indication of the effects of narratives in the retirement context and further insights into the usage of framing and thus, builds a good foundation for further research.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.


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