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The occurrence of disasters occasionally leads to avoidant purchasing behavior in consumers. Examples of such behavior could be seen after the Tohoku earthquake in Japan, March 11, 2011. When the earthquake occurred, people avoided purchasing products such as agricultural products, from the Tohoku area, specifically in the Fukushima prefecture. Such avoidant purchasing behavior is associated with negative attitudes that are based on affect. It has been hypothesized that affective messages are more effective than cognitive messages in reducing avoidant purchasing behavior, due to the message-attitude matching effect. However, the effects of the matching effect are not appropriately utilized in interventions (e.g., advertisement, government publicity) and hence, the persuasive power of these messages decreases. Yet, some studies have reported that the message-attitude mismatching effect is effective in interventions. This study examined the effects of persuasive messages aimed at reducing the avoidant purchasing behavior after the Tohoku earthquake, with a specific focus on the message-attitude mismatching effect. 364 university students were presented with one of four positive messages about the agricultural products of Fukushima. These messages were classified as either affective, cognitive, combination, or control messages. Participants’ attitudes toward the products were measured by administering questionnaires both before and after the messages were presented. The results showed that the effects of the persuasive message were statistically significant in the cognitive and combination conditions. These results are in line with previous research findings and suggest that cognitive messages are more effective for interventions than affective messages, which supports the effectiveness of the message-attitude mismatching effect.
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