Liabilities of Empty Space (03-16-17)

It often seems like a good idea to leave empty space around important texts.  New research indicates that white space may not always be a plus. Kwan, Dai, and Wyer found that via seven field and laboratory studies that “The empty space that surrounds a text message can affect the message’s persuasiveness. . . . people find a message less persuasive, and are less likely to act on its implications, when it is surrounded by empty space than when it is not. . . . message recipients infer that a message conveys a less strong opinion when empty space surrounds it and are consequently less likely to accept its implications.”  This finding may be applied both when written reports, etc., are being prepared, and also when wall-mounted graphics are being developed, for example.

Canice Kwan, Xianchi Dai, and Robert Wyer.  “Contextual Influences on Message Persuasion:  The Effect of Empty Space.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press.