More than just a pretty face? Examining the influence of attractiveness and reporter/athlete congruity on perceived credibility
Research examining source credibility in mass communication has demonstrated how source’s gender and attractiveness can impact perceived credibility and, subsequently, how well messages are received. This experiment extends these findings to the context of mediated sports by examining them in conjunction with athlete gender. Although source attractiveness and gender appear to have no influence, data gleaned from this experiment demonstrate that these relationships are actually dependent upon incongruity with athlete gender. A 2x2x2 between-subjects, fully-crossed experimental design with 230 participants was utilized. Results indicate that sex of the reporter, level of attractiveness of the reporter, and athlete gender impact perceptions of credibility, such that, in terms of perceived credibility, reporters of the opposite sex of the athlete benefit most if they are viewed as unattractive. Results also indicate that reporters are perceived as more credible when interviewing male athletes as opposed to female athletes. Explanations are offered for these findings in addition to a discussion of the implications for academic investigation in source credibility and pragmatic directions that this study benefits.