Making a Grand Gesture? The Influence of Sign Language Interpreters on the Persuasion of a Message for Good Hearing People
Lee, B.A.M. van der
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For the first time a live sign language interpreter is visible on Dutch national television during the press conferences about the coronavirus. This is a good addition for hearing-impaired individuals but their influence on good hearing people is unknown. Research emphasizes the importance of nonverbal behavior, in particular gestures, in increasing persuasion. For good hearing people the sign interpreter could function as a producer of gestures and increase persuasion. The current study aims to fill the gap in literature by answering the question ‘Does the addition of a sign language interpreter increase persuasion on good hearing people, or is it distracting from the message and thus less persuasive? An online survey was conducted among good hearing Dutch adults. Participants watched a video of a press conference with either the speaker only, speaker and synchronized sign interpreter or speaker and unsynchronized sign interpreter. The persuasiveness of the video was measured by nonverbal presence, attention, understanding, memory, persuasion and intention to comply. We found that the presence of a sign language interpreter does not have a main effect on persuasion among good hearing people, but that the synchronized interpreter strengthens the effect of previously formed opinions on persuasion. For future research it is recommended to study the effect of the sign interpreter using an unknown speaker and a neutral topic. It is concluded that the addition of the sign language interpreter to the press conferences is a good move. Results of the study are a valuable first step in optimizing important communication.