Tell Me Again Why I Should Listen to You?: Source Effects Revisited

Nancy Artz, University of Southern Maine
[ to cite ]:
Nancy Artz (1995) ,"Tell Me Again Why I Should Listen to You?: Source Effects Revisited", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22, eds. Frank R. Kardes and Mita Sujan, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 222-223.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22, 1995      Pages 222-223


Nancy Artz, University of Southern Maine

The large number of source effects documented in the literature and the corresponding conceptual frameworks indicate that source plays a complex role in persuasion (cf. McGuire 1985; Wilson and Sherrell 1993). Early research examined how dimensions of source credibility such as expertise and trustworthiness influence attitudes through a process of internalization in which message arguments are accepted by the viewer. Researchers examining source attractiveness argued that attractiveness persuades through a process of identification (i.e., enhancement of viewer selfBconcept) rather than internalization of arguments. Involvement has been shown to be an important moderator of source effects. Source characteristics are thought to have a strong influence on attitudes when involvement is low because the viewer uses the source as a simple cue in deciding whether to accept or reject the message conclusion (Petty and Cacioppo 1984). Source variables can still have an effect in high involvement processing, but the extent and type of effect depends on message characteristics such as message strength and message ambiguity (Chaiken and Maheswaran 1994).

Each of the papers in this session explores the complexity of source effects from a different perspective. New mediating and moderating factors are identified (i.e., vocal characteristics, message format). The relationship between involvement and internalization/identification is examined further. Additional insight is gained into the way source variables affect cognitive processing. The extent to which source characteristics are considered by practitioners is uncovered. And, a conceptual model of the celebrity endorser selection process is offered that integrates the traditional dimensions of source credibility with the dimensions relevant in the celebrity endorsement context. All of the papers provide insight into when and why different sources are appropriate for different persuasive situations.

The paper by Claire GTlinasBChebat and JeanBCharles Chebat, "Voice Intonation and Intensity as Antecedents of Source Credibility in the Advertising Context," examines source characteristics which have been previously ignored by consumer researchers. Specifically, the research focuses on the persuasive role of two major phonetic characteristics: voice intensity and voice intonation. An experiment was conducted to assess the effect of voice intensity (high or low), voice intonation (high or low), and involvement (high or low) on perceptions of source credibility and similarity/attractiveness. The results indicate that intensity and intonation play different roles as antecedents of credibility (i.e., internalization persuasion process) and similarity (i.e., identification persuasion process). Intonation has a main effect on perceived credibility while the effects of intensity on perceptions of credibility and similarity are moderated by involvement. Interestingly, intensity and intonation have an interactive effect on perceived credibility. Credibility is enhanced if both are low or both are high. The authors suggest explanations for the effects that are compatible with the common theoretical frameworks in the literature on internalization/identification and involvement. Again, this paper makes a contribution by identifying new antecedents of source effects.

The paper by Nancy Artz and Alice M. Tybout, "Source Expertise and Source Bias as Moderators of the Persuasive Effects of Numeric and Verbal Communications," examines the persuasive role of the traditional source credibility characteristics of expertise and bias. An experiment was conducted that manipulated message format (numeric/verbal), source expertise (expert/novice), and source bias (unbiased/biased). The results indicate that different types of sources are appropriate for numeric and verbal messages in that higher levels of source expertise can enhance the persuasiveness of numeric claims, but can be detrimental with verbal claims. This is argued to occur because consumers associate precise, numeric information with experts and associate imprecise, verbal information with novices. A source is thought to be most persuasive when the source's level of expertise is congruent with the level of expertise associated with the type of message. Interestingly, this effect of sourceBmessage congruence was only evident when the source was biased. Source bias appears to shift the focus of the processor's thoughts away from product attributes and toward other aspects of the communication (as opposed to increasing the total number of thoughts). The paper makes a contribution by providing additional insight into the process underlying source effects.

The paper by Alan R. Miciak and Carolyn L. Tripp, "Dimensions of Source Credibility in Celebrity Endorsement Situations," takes a fresh perspective by seeing whether the theoretical constructs found in the source effects literature are relevant to the actual selection of spokespersons by advertisers. Specifically, practitioners were surveyed to identify the criteria used when celebrity endorsers are selected. The results indicate that practitioners are highly sensitive to spokesperson credibility (expertise and trustworthiness) and attractiveness as well as to celebrityBaudience congruence and celebrityBproduct congruence. Moreover, celebrity endorser selection is also driven by a number of practical concerns such as the size of the endorser's fees, the risk of negative publicity, whether the celebrity is currently endorsing other products, etc. An interesting line of future research would be to investigate the extent to which these practical concerns affect consumer perceptions of attractiveness and credibility. The authors propose a model of the selection process that highlights the importance of the communication context in the selection of celebrity endorsers. In other words, the model emphasizes that traditional source characteristics like credibility and attractiveness must be viewed in the context of the specific product endorsed, the target audience, and the specific creative execution. The authors also present a structural model of the relationship between attractiveness, trustworthiness, sourceBaudience congruence, expertise, and sourceBproduct congruence.

As a group, the three papers in this session examine mediating and moderating factors underlying source effects. The paper by GTlinasBChebat and Chebat explores vocal characteristics as antecedents of source credibility and attractiveness, and examines the moderating role of involvement. The paper by Artz and Tybout examines the interaction between source expertise and message format in influencing persuasion, and also explores the cognitive processes associated with the effect of source bias. The paper by Miciak and Tripp explores the extent to which practitioners are sensitive to mediating and moderating factors when they select celebrity endorsers, and proposes a conceptual model of the selection process that integrates the traditional dimensions of source credibility with the dimensions relevant in the celebrity endorsement context. In conclusion, the session focuses attention on the complex role of communication sources that results in different sources being appropriate for different persuasive situations. Future research should continue in the tradition of this session by exploring when and why source characteristics have the effects they do.

The discussant, Elizabeth J. Wilson, echoed these themes when she reviewed the contributions of each paper for theory development and management application. She encouraged researchers to continue to pursue a number of topics: 1) the role of selfBmonitoring in source effects which was discussed in the paper by GTlinasBChebat and Chebat, but was not formally manipulated, 2) the managerial implications of the Artz and Tybout finding that novices can be more persuasive than experts in certain situations, and 3) a structural model using the Miciak and Tripp data to test traditional theorizing about separate roles for internalization and identification.


Chaiken, Shelly and Durairaj Maheswaran (1994), "Heuristic Processing Can Bias Systematic Processing: Effects of Source Credibility, Argument Ambiguity, and Task Importance on Attitude Judgment," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66 (3), 460B473.

McGuire, William J., (1985), "Attitudes and Attitude Change," The Handbook of Social Psychology, Vol. II, Gardner Lindzey and Elliot Aronson (Eds.), New York: Random House, pp. 233B346.

Petty, Richard E. and John T. Cacioppo (1984), "Source Factors and the Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion," Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 11, 668B672.

Wilson, Elizabeth J. and Daniel L. Sherrell (1993), "Source Effects in Communication and Persuasion Research: A MetaBAnalysis of Effect Size," Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 21(Spring), 101B112.