An excellent study on this subject is located at http://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/
There's a lot (A LOT) there, and Jacob doesn't follow his own advice very well, but it's a very interesting and useful study. A brief summary is located at http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9710a.html
Especially interesting was his finding that "promotional language imposes a cognitive burden on users who have to spend resources on filtering out the hyperbole to get at the facts."
"When people read a paragraph that starts 'Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions,' their first reaction is no, it's not, and this thought slows them down and distracts them from using the site."
Since I've mentioned the WebDevelopment newsletter several times now, it's probably only fair to pass on the info on how to subscribe to it:
To SUBSCRIBE, mailto:email@example.com
In the BODY of your message, put: JOIN
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