Are Ads that Rhyme More Persuasive?

Rhyming ads are not only more memorable, they are also perceived as more accurate.

In one study, conducted 
by lead researcher Matthew McGlone, people were presented with a series of statements. In each case, half the study participants received statements that rhymed, for example, “caution and measure will win you treasure” and “sobriety conceals what alcohol reveals” and the other half got non-rhyming versions of the same statements: “caution and measure will win you riches” and “sobriety conceals what alcohol unmasks”.

After reading them, participants rated how accurately each reflected 
the way the world really works. In pretty much every case 
the participants held the 
strong belief that rhyming 
was in no way an indicator 
of accuracy, yet regardless 
of this they still rated those 
that rhymed as more accurate than those that didn’t.

In explaining the finding, McGlone and his colleagues speculate that rhyming phrases possess greater processing fluency. In other words people find rhyming phrases easier 
to process mentally than non-rhyming ones. And because we all, to some extent, evaluate how accurate something is based on how easily we can process the incoming information, rhyming statements are typically judged as more accurate 
than non-rhyming ones.

So it turns out that, despite what many people say, there are times when that annoying rhyme can really help your business climb (sorry!). And even if you decide against putting your next campaign into verse, at the very least it will be important to ensure that your messages are fluent and easy for people to quickly process.

Steve Martin is co-author of Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion.

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