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Credibility. Credibility counts. "ethos is the most potent of all means of persuasion" (Aristotle, The Rhetoric, 1356a) “To become a celebrity is to become a brand name” (Phillip Roth)

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credibility counts
Credibility counts
  • "ethos is the most potent of all means of persuasion" (Aristotle, The Rhetoric, 1356a)
  • “To become a celebrity is to become a brand name” (Phillip Roth)
  • “The generalization that high credibility sources are more influential than low credibility sources is as close as one can come to a universal law of persuasion” (Gass & Seiter, 2007)
  • Definition: “Judgments made by a perceiver concerning the believability of a communicator” (O’Keefe, 1990).
    • Credibility is not synonymous with charisma or leadership.
    • Credibility is also referred to as “Ethos.”
    • Credibility is a crucial element in persuasion.
credibility endorsers
Credibility endorsers
  • Berger (2004) maintains we are living in a “Celebritocracy.”
  • Roughly one in five ads features a celebrity endorser.
  • The Match-Up Hypothesis: A good fit between the endorser and the brand is essential.
    • William Shatner parodies himself in’s campy “action hero” commercials.
  • Meaning Transfer Perspective: An endorser’s persona is projected onto the brand.
    • Catherine Zeta Jones evokes style and sophistication for T-Mobil.
celebrity endorses
Celebrity endorses
  • 25% of advertisements employ celebrity endorsers (Shimp, 2000).
  • Roughly 10% of advertising expenditures go to pay the endorser (Agrawal & Kamakura, 1995)
  • Selling power is known as a celebrity’s “quotient fare” or simply “Q”
the match up hypothesis
The match-up hypothesis
  • How do these four endorsers fit the “My Life, My Card” American Express image?
falling stars
Falling stars
  • Celebrity scandals rub off onto the sponsor.
    • Tiger Woods was dropped by Accenture, Buick, Gatorade, and other sponsors following revelations of marital infidelity.
    • Michael Phelps Kellogg's dropped him, but Speedo and Subway stuck with him, after his “bong” photo surfaced.
    • Michael Vick was dropped by Nike and Coca-Cola after his dog-fighting conviction.
    • Martha Stewart resurrected her image as a homemaking diva, after serving time for insider trading.
celebrities in politics
Celebrities in Politics
  • Celebrities have little effect on election outcomes.
  • "There is no polling evidence that celebrity endorsements make a difference,“
      • Kathleen Hall Jamieson
  • "political endorsements generally have little impact on voter preference."
      • A 2007 study by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press
  • It may be that celebrities are more successful motivating people to vote in general as opposed to tendering a vote for a specific candidate.”
      • Natalie Wood, Ph.D., marketing professor
credibility dimensions
Credibility dimensions
  • Credibility is a perceptual phenomenon.
    • Ethos is in the eye of the beholder.
  • Credibility is a multi-dimensional construct.
    • it is a composite of multiple factors
  • Credibility is situational.
    • It varies from one context to another.
  • Credibility is dynamic.
    • It changes over time, even during a short period of time.
primary credibility dimensions
Primary credibility dimensions
  • There are three primary dimensions of credibility.
    • All three are important in almost all persuasive situations.
    • Benoit (2004) says expertise is tends to be the most important of the three.
  • Expertise (competence)
    • The persuader has knowledge, skills, knows his/her stuff.
  • Trustworthiness (character, integrity)
    • The persuader is honest, safe, dependable.
  • Goodwill (perceived caring)
    • The persuader takes a genuine interest in you.
primary credibility dimensions1
Primary credibility dimensions
  • Does Captain “Sully” Sullenberger possess all three dimensions?
  • Does Oprah Winfrey possess all three dimensions?
  • Did Joe “The plumber” have expertise?
  • Is Tiger Woods trustworthy?
  • Are Fox News and CNN trustworthy?
  • What dimensions were Richard Hatch or Russell Hantz (from the TV show Survivor) high or low in?
  • Is Sarah Palin high in expertise?
secondary credibility dimensions
Secondary credibility dimensions
  • There are multiple, secondary dimensions of credibility.
  • Secondary dimensions are more situation specific.
  • Dynamism (extroversion)
    • A source is energetic, enthusiastic.
  • Composure (poise)
    • A source is calm, cool, and collected.
  • Sociability (Likeability)
    • A source is friendly, warm, charming.
whose got what
Whose got what?
  • Match the credibility dimensions below with the sources on the right.*
  • Primary:
    • Expertise
    • Trustworthiness
    • Goodwill
  • Secondary
    • Dynamism
    • Composure
    • Sociability

* Note: Since credibility is in the eye of the beholder, not everyone will agree.

  • James Bond
  • Ellen Degeneris
  • Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Barack Obama
  • John Madden
  • Ty Pennington
  • Rachel Ray
  • Captain Sully Sullenberger
  • AIG
  • Reese Witherspoon

Does anyone possess all three dimensions?

credibility as a peripheral cue
Credibility as a peripheral cue
  • Credibility typically functions as a peripheral cue in persuasion.
    • Credibility matters more when receivers have low involvement.
    • Credibility matters less when receivers have high involvement.
the third person effect
The Third Person Effect
  • Study by Yankelovich and Gannett, of 1,000 consumers nationwide:
    • Only 25% of those questioned said a TV ad would induce them to try a product or brand
    • Only 3% said they would try a new product based on the recommendations of a celebrity
    • 63% said they would try something new based on the advice of a friend.
  • Third person effect: People think they are less susceptible to persuasion than other people.
  • Self-serving bias: People think they are better than average; better drivers, better sense of humor, more intelligent, etc.
credibility and image management
Credibility and image management
  • Credibility extends to government agencies, institutions, organizations, social movements.
  • Institutions have images and reputations to maintain.
    • Toyota
    • AIG
    • FEMA
  • When an institution’s image is tarnished, it must engage in image restoration.
  • Hence the importance of PR, media “spin,” community involvement.
credibility and image management1
Credibility and image management
  • How would you rate the credibility of the following organizations?
    • American Trial Lawyers Association
    • Blackwater (now Xe)
    • Congress
    • United Nations
    • McDonald’s
    • Philip Morris
    • Wal-Mart
  • Pretend you are the head of a PR firm representing one of these companies.
  • What steps would you take to enhance or restore their credibility?
the sleeper effect
The Sleeper Effect
  • The persuasiveness of messages changes over time.
  • Most messages lose effectiveness over time.
  • The Sleeper Effect is an exception to the general rule.
    • A message initially advocated by a low credibility source may increase in persuasiveness over time.
    • The source and the message must be disassociated by using a discounting cue.
    • Without the “ball and chain” of the low credibility source, the message becomes more persuasive.
    • Absolute versus Relative sleeper effects
generalizing the credibility construct
Generalizing the credibility construct
  • Credibility applies not only to the rich and famous
  • institutions and organizations possess credibility as well
  • In dyadic encounters; there are two sources whose credibility is at stake

Do fictional spokespersons possess credibility?

enhancing credibility
Enhancing credibility
  • Prepare thoroughly. Never “wing it.”
    • Be organized, fluent, composed.
    • Manage your time carefully.
    • Anticipate likely questions.
  • Cite evidence and source qualifications.
    • Cite credible sources and evidence within your presentation.
  • State your own background and expertise.
    • Demonstrate that you know what you are talking about.
  • Build trust by identifying with your audience.
    • Emphasize similarities, common values, shared goals.
  • Display goodwill by showing that you care.
    • Be genuine, authentic.
    • Show you have your listeners’ interests at heart.