We apply a test and extension of Expectancy Violations Theory (EVT) to AT&T’s It Can Wait® promotional messages. Though promising, EVT remains underutilized in mass media contexts. We propose that message elaboration mediates the effects of violating audience expectations of message novelty, dramatic impact, and emotional arousal. Findings indicated that emotional arousal and dramatic impact violations had indirect effects on persuasiveness through message elaboration. This study contributes to theory by providing evidence that in mediated contexts violating message expectations can lead to greater persuasion. Implications for incorporating audience expectations into the design of safety messages are discussed.
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