The effect of ending disclosure on the persuasiveness of narrative PSAs

Davide C. Orazi, Jing Lei, Liliana L. Bove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Cautionary stories in which misbehavior results in negative outcomes are often used in public service announcements (PSAs) to promote behavioral change. These cautionary stories can either disclose or withhold their endings and the associated negative outcomes for the characters involved. In four experiments, we show that disclosing (vs. withholding) a story's ending increases persuasion due to greater counterfactual thinking about alternative actions that could have prevented the negative outcomes. Integrating these findings within the Transportation-Imagery Model of narrative persuasion, we also show how dispositional levels of need for cognitive closure can amplify the effect of ending disclosure in a PSA. Our findings have important implications for both marketing communicators and policy makers who seek to improve the effectiveness of PSAs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-251
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Business Research
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Counterfactual thinking
  • Marketing communications
  • Narrative persuasion
  • Public service announcements
  • Story ending

Cite this