While many persuasive communications tend to be perceived as increasing consumer choice, others, such as public service announcements, more or less forcefully restrict that choice. This research examines the effects of threats to freedom on receptivity to message information, as a function of the level of construal at which the message is processed. The findings indicate that consumers are more open to high threat message information at high (vs. low) levels of construal, and this pattern holds when construal level is manipulated via message wording (study one) or is non-consciously primed prior to message exposure (study two). Also, the results point to the level of detail at which the message is considered, and the resulting use of persuasion knowledge, as the underlying reason for this pattern of results (study three). Specifically, at high levels of detail (i.e. low construal) there is a greater use of persuasion knowledge and
lower information receptivity in face of high threat to freedom messages. At low level
of detail (high construal), by contrast, persuasion knowledge use is lower and
receptivity to information in freedom threatening messages higher.