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The influence of politeness on the perception of product recall notices

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When companies decide — or are forced — to publish a product recall notice, their aim is to give consumers clear information on how to handle the problem and to warn them of a possible danger. On the other hand companies try to preserve their corporate image in order to guarantee a (commercial) relation in the future. This article deals with the question whether politeness strategies lead to differences in the appreciation, acceptance and perception of product recall notices. In two experimental studies we evaluated the effect of positive and negative politeness strategies in different conditions. The results show that the use of elaborated negative politeness strategies positively influences the appreciation and acceptance of the message, and has a positive effect on the perception of the corporate image. However in a context where the product recall warns of a severe risk, writers of product recalls should use politeness strategies more cautiously. In this context the use of politeness strategies even seems to have a negative effect on the acceptability of the recall message.
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Keywords: crisis communication; politeness strategies; product recall notices

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Antwerp 2: Tilburg University

Publication date: November 1, 2001

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  • Journal of Research and Problem Solving in Organizational Communication
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