EFFECTS OF ENDORSER ATTRACTIVENESS ON AUDIENCE PERCEPTION OF ENDORSER CREDIBILITY IN CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY MESSAGES
Much research has been conducted regarding the physical attractiveness of spokespersons as related to perceptions of credibility of the spokesperson and the sponsoring organization. Advertising and marketing research has shown that physical attractiveness can lead to greater perceptions of credibility of both the spokesperson and sponsoring organization, but these findings often depend on the type of products being marketed, e.g. everyday products versus beauty-enhancing products. This thesis is an experiment that tests whether a highly attractive or moderate/unattractive endorser leads to greater perceived credibility of corporations in the context of selling ideas, i.e. the concept and credibility of corporate social responsibility messages, rather than the selling of commercial products. The study also tested for interactions between attractiveness of endorser, company type, and personal involvement. One hundred and thirty-seven subjects participated in a 2X2X2 experimental design study (in survey form) in which I manipulated the independent variables of endorser attractiveness and company type and measured cognitive involvement (control variable) and examined their effects on perceived credibility of the endorser and organization. Furthermore, this thesis examines the relationship between endorser credibility and organizational credibility. Results from the data analysis suggest, first, that there is a positive correlation between endorser credibility and corporate credibility. Second, attractiveness does not behave the same in public relations as in product marketing and advertising. Specifically, this study?s findings suggest that attractiveness was negatively correlated with perceptions of overall endorser credibility as well as endorser expertise and trustworthiness. Third, there is an interaction between company type and endorser attractiveness for perceptions of endorser expertise. Finally, the results show that high cognitive involvement does not lead to smaller differences of means in endorser credibility between attractive and unattractive endorsers as was hypothesized in this study.
corporate social responsibility; communication; credibility; attractiveness; endorser
dissertation or thesis