Repository logo




Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title






Degree Level



Controversy regarding the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in food production seems to be endless, and both opponents and proponents of the genetic modification (GM) technology have made many efforts to shape the public opinion in favour of their cause. Although metaphoric communications have been one pivotal strategy of the anti-GMO movement, the use of this tactic to promote GM technology has been minimal. In this research, I explored different metaphoric messaging strategies that can improve consumers’ perceptions of genetic modification. I tested the effectiveness of framing GM technology as either progress or contamination protection, with manmade or natural metaphor sources and with different levels of verbal explanation to determine the best consumer response toward advertisements, and toward the use of GM technology in food production. The conceptual framework of this study is based on metaphoric theory, prominent technology representation strategies, persuasion knowledge, and verbal anchoring theory. More specifically, I propose technology representation strategy, metaphor source strategy and level of verbal anchoring impact consumers’ attitude toward the ad, perceived benefits of the GM technology, and perceived risks of the GM technology. By changing these dependent variables, metaphoric communications might be able to improve consumer’s attitude toward the use of GM technology in food production and purchase intention for GMO food. First, I examined whether consumers differentiate between different types of technology representation strategies. Second, I explored whether using manmade objects as metaphor source would better improve consumers' perception of the ads, and finally, I studied whether metaphors with complete verbal anchors are more favourably processed by the audience. My research used 16 ads to manipulate the above variables and then during two experiments, I collected quantitative information. In the first study I focused on the quality of the ads and used attitude toward the ad as the focal dependent variable for a student sample. In the context of this study, audiences preferred metaphors with a manmade construct. Interestingly, although complete verbal anchors generated a more favourable response to the GM technology advertisements (regardless of the representation strategy), the change of verbal anchoring strategy from incomplete to complete improved consumer responses to the ads significantly more when a contamination protection strategy was used. The second experiment was designed based on the results of the first study. In this experiment, I used a general public sample to understand their assessment of the eight selected ads from the first study as well as their perceived risk, perceived benefits, and attitude toward the use of GM technology in food production. The results of this study suggest that the general public prefers pro-GM ads which use contamination protection as their strategy for technology representation. Furthermore, believability of the ad is found to be a critical component in consumers’ decision-making process. The findings of these studies provide useful knowledge for both researchers and food marketers to better understand the impact of metaphoric communications on consumers’ attitude toward GM technology and pro-GM ads. I argue that close attention to specific variables in the design and development of these ads will substantially improve their ability to enhance the image of the technology.



GMO, rhetoric, Metaphor, Science communication, Advertisement



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Edwards School of Business




Part Of