Bregje Holleman investigates the effects of wording variation on understanding and persuasion, in (attitude) surveys and persuasive or informative texts. She published on the effects of framing in attitude surveys and in persuasive or informative texts, as well as about the cognitive and communicative processes causing these effects.
In 2012 she was a awarded a research subsidy by NWO to do research on the use and effects of Voting Advice Applications. Bregje lead this interdisciplinary project together with Claes de Vreese (political communication, University of Amsterdam). Jasper van de Pol (UvA) was a PhD in this project, he succesfully defended his thesis Dec 21, 2016. Naomi Kamoen (UU) was (parttime) post-doc researcher, and is now a fulltime assistant professor at Tilburg University.
This project investigates the effectiveness of decision aids in pension communication for participants of a pension scheme. Pension Decision Aids (PDAs) are interactive online tools that through a sequence of questions and information guide participants towards making informed pension decisions. PDAs (1) explicitly state the decision that needs to be considered; (2) provide information about the options, associated benefits, risks, probabilities and uncertainties; (3) help clients to recognize the value-sensitive nature of the decision as well as (4) help to clarify the value they put on the consequences of the decision alternatives; (5) provide a personalized recommendation; (6) provide guidance or coaching in the steps of making and communicating decisions with others; (7) help clients to assess their comprehension of the consequences of their decision. In the medical domain, Decision Aids have been found to lead to better decisions (in that these decisions are consistent with the patient’s values), but also to more knowledge, a more accurate risk assessment, and a higher confidence about one’s choice. In this project, we aim to assess to what extent PDAs can have similar positive effects for decisions about pensions and how the PDAs should be designed to attain such effects.
Allergen information provided on the label of food products is crucial in food allergy management. Many accidental reactions occur by consuming packed and prepacked food products, which can lead to serious health effects. Is allergen information communicated in a clear and consistent way?
Voting Advice Applications (VAAs) have become a central feature of today’s politics. They are used by almost half of the electorate prior to elections. Our current knowledge about the uses and effects of these tools, however, is limited. Research suggests VAAs affect the intention to cast a vote at all, and can affect what people vote. It is far from clear, however, which types of citizens are affected by VAAs, and to what extent their political attitudes and intentions are based on political literacy, on an increased understanding of the political landscape. In addition, insight is needed into the extent to which form and content features of VAAs affect citizens’ political understanding, political attitudes, and decision-making.
Our research team consists of experts from two universities, bringing together expertise from political science and communication science (Amsterdam University) with linguistics, document design and survey methodology (Utrecht University). By cooperating with a leading
VAA organization (KiesKompas), a city council (gemeente Utrecht) and the National Council for Government Policy (WRR), this project brings together different stakeholders of VAAs and a wide range of expertise and experience concerning VAAs, elections and thinking about our democracy, which will will produce new theorizing as well as ‘science for policy making’. The research project is tailored to the NWO ‘Begrijpelijke Taal’-program in its focus on how text (form and content) and reader characteristics interact, and how (political) understanding is related to attitudes and intentions, situated in a research context with high societal impact.
Is a glass half full, or is it half empty? Very often it's possible to describe a situation either in positive or in negative terms. Do some people tend to 'view' the glass as half full, and the pessimists as half empty? No, rather it seems that it is dependent of the situation which frame one chooses: a speaker will frame in terms of half full if the glass is in the process of being filled, and half empty when it's being emptied (cf. Sher & McKenzie 2006). Also, it turns out to be related to the conclusion a speaker intends to draw: if he wants to conclude an artist is very popular, a concert hall will be described in terms of 'half full' and not 'half empty' (cf. Holleman & Pander Maat 2009). In attitude surveys, both positive and negative wordings are advised to be used in order to avoid respondents' straightlining. Yet, research shows (Holleman 2000, Kamoen 2012) that negative questions are answered differently from their positive counterparts: with negative questions, evaluations seem to be more positive. What is causing these answering tendencies? In this research project I investigate the effects of positive vs. negative wordings in a variety of contexts (surveys, informative texts, persuasion, voting advice applications), and investigate the underlying mechanisms that might explain the occurrence of these framing effects. Is it in the semantic relation between the words, or in the pragmatics? In emotional negativity bias? In the attitude retrieval caused by the question, or in a shift of the response options' meanings?
I work on this (or I have worked on this) with Huub van den Bergh, Jaap Murre, Naomi Kamoen, Henk Pander Maat, Jasper van de Pol, Claes de Vreese, Jos van Berkum, and Marijn Struiksma
In 2016 and onwards, Bregje Holleman and Naomi Kamoen continue their work on the use of Voting Advice Applications. Besides, Bregje works on valence framing in attitude surveys and persuasive texts.