COMM 339 -- Persuasion

Dr. Lee McGaan  

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Credibility - Ethos
Last updated 9/30/2016

Credibility involves multiple dimensions, applies to both groups and individuals and is intertwined with the ability of a source to require compliance.


Traditional Views of Credibility ( Note spelling:  no "T" in "Credible")

  I.   Ethos and Good character


  II.   Rational/Legal Ideal of Credibility


A.   Ability to make a judgment/claim

1.    knowledge

2.    expertise

B.   Objectivity


  III.  Credibility as Believability involves


A.   audience acceptance - This is the idea that "Credibility is in the eye of the beholder."  [ note AP issue of “contrary to self-interest” ]


B.   components discovered through research data

1.    trustworthiness

2.    (Attitude?) similarity

3.     physical attractiveness


C.   meeting the needs of the receivers


Some Research Results on Effects of Credibility

  • Prestige of sources can lead to legitimation of the issue the source is talking about.

  • Audiences seem to learn information regardless of source – e.g. the sleeper effect (since audience members often have short memories as to who was the sourceof information they have heard and how credible that source is.)

  • Mystification can yield higher credibility - e.g. the use jargon, complex language, abstract symbols, etc.  (e.g. "If I don't understand him, he must be smart!")

  • Charisma (and identification/referent power), traditionally it has been seen as valuable – But does it still exist?