Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Robert J. Meyer
Many forms of communication, from verbal conversations to leading digital apps such as Snapchat and Telegram, limit the number of times people can examine stimuli. I investigate how this restriction affects processing of received information. Building on the notion that people strategically allocate cognitive resources, this research proposes that receivers increase resource allocation when processing information that they cannot reexamine. Twelve studies (N = 11,590) demonstrate that making content ephemeral – that is, restricting people to a single view (versus multiple views) – leads to higher attention allocation, longer voluntary viewing time, and increased focus on relatively important information. These effects on stimuli processing facilitate greater recall (both cued and free recall), improved comprehension, and more extreme attitudes towards viewed content. Furthermore, these effects are not explained by the senders’ choice to share content on an ephemeral (versus perpetual) communication platform, nor by viewers’ preference for one type of platform or the content typically shared on it. In sum, our findings suggest that marketers can draw greater attention to content they produce, and affect key metrics such as recall, viewing time, and attitudes, by informing their consumers that they cannot view the content repeatedly.
Barnea, Uri, "The Effects Of Content Ephemerality On Information Processing" (2020). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 3839.