Listed among the results of the “Perceived Realism” article is the finding that “narrative persuasion occurred regardless of whether the narrative was viewed as fiction or fact” (Cho et al., p. 18). On the one hand, this conclusion seems somewhat obvious, since persuasion often involves an appeal to an audience’s emotions. As the authors observe, Forrest Gump is not “plausible, typical, or factual,” (Cho et al., p. 9), but viewers still responded to it. One would assume, however, that as audiences move from overt fictions such as film to fact-based fictions like public service announcements (PSAs) the importance they attach to the realism of those narratives would increase. How factual that narrative is would then determine, at least in part, how persuasive it was.
The fact that the results suggest the contrary raises the question: how generalizable is this conclusion? The lone PSA described seemed sensationalist, and since the beer ad involved time travel I think we can safely characterize it as fictional. Would a study featuring testimonials or endorsements net the same results?