Emotional appeal in recruitment advertising and applicant attraction: Unpacking national cultural differences

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Journal of Organizational Behavior


We investigated the impact of the type of emotional appeal (ego-focused vs. other-focused) used in recruiting advertisements on applicant attraction to firms through two experimental studies across three countries (the United States, China, and Singapore). In Study 1, we made a traditional cultural comparison between the United States and China, whose dominant cultural values are characterized by individualism and collectivism, respectively. We found applicants in the United States were more strongly attracted to firms whose recruiting advertisements were based on an ego-focused emotional appeal, while applicants in China were more attracted to firms that used ads with an other-focused emotional appeal. Study 2 was conducted in bicultural Singapore. We primed bicultural applicants to be either the individualistic or collectivistic aspect of their cultural heritage. Applicants with individualist priming were attracted to recruiting advertisements with an ego-focused emotional appeal, whereas applicants with collectivist priming were attracted to advertisements with an other-focused emotional appeal. In addition, both studies revealed that a job applicant's regulatory focus (promotion vs. prevention) mediated the influence of national culture on the relationship between type of emotional appeal and applicant attraction to firms. Practical implications and suggestions for future research also are discussed. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Management, Marketing, and Logistics

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