Conventional advice when targeting older adults is to use factual, rational appeals over emotional appeals due to age-related differences in information processing. Socioemotional selectivity theory posits that when people perceive time as limited, they pursue emotionally-orientated rather than knowledge-orientated goals. Advertising experiments using socioemotional selectivity theory suggest conventional advice may be misleading and advocate using emotional appeals. The current study tested the theory in a specific advertising context among adults (n = 2,550) ages 19 to 90 years. Contrary to expectations and prior socioemotional selectivity theory research, older adults demonstrated clear preferences for rational over emotional appeals, which suggests that conventional advice was correct all along.
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