Volume 31, Issue 2 p. 382-414
Research Review – Invited

A Review and Conceptual Framework for Understanding Personalized Matching Effects in Persuasion

Jacob D. TeenyJoseph J. Siev

Joseph J. Siev

The Ohio State University

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Pablo Briñol

Pablo Briñol

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

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Richard E. Petty

Corresponding Author

Richard E. Petty

The Ohio State University

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Richard E. Petty, Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, 1835 Neil Avenue, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA. Electronic mail may be sent to [email protected].

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First published: 15 October 2020
Citations: 57
Invited and Accepted by Angela Lee, Associate Editor
The authors thank members of the Group for Attitudes and Persuasion at Ohio State for feedback on earlier versions of this paper. The authors have no conflicts of interest to report regarding this review.

Abstract

One of the most reliable and impactful methods for enhancing a persuasive appeal is to match an aspect of the proposal (i.e., its content, source, or the setting in which it is delivered) to an aspect of the consumer receiving it. This personalized matching in persuasion (also called tailoring, targeting, customizing, or personalizing) comprises a robust and growing literature. In the present review, we describe different types of persuasive matches, the primary characteristics of people who are targeted, and the key psychological mechanisms underlying the impact of matching. Importantly, although most research on personalized matching has concluded that matching is good for persuasion, we also describe and explain instances where it has produced negative (i.e., “backfire”) effects. That is, more than just the conclusion “matching is good” that many researchers have drawn, we analyze when and why it is good and when and why it can be ineffective—insight that can benefit marketers and consumers alike in understanding how personally matched appeals can impact attitudes and ultimately behavior.