One rationale offered for why there are fewer people of color in public relations is that publics would respond less positively if racial minorities represented the public face of an organization. To determine the plausibility of this rationale, this study employed a 2 (race: Black vs. White spokesman) × 2 (performance history: with prior crisis vs. no prior crisis) × 2 (crisis type: sports vs. product recall) within-subjects experiment (N = 64), using both implicit (reaction time) and explicit (self-report) measures. Contrary to expectations, participants rated Black spokesmen as significantly more credible than White spokesmen using explicit measures. Most significantly, implicit tests, using response time measures, revealed that heuristic cues, such as the spokesman’s race, have an influence on perceptions in the absence of a performance history, i.e., when no other information must be cognitively processed. But in cases where there is a crisis history, i.e., when there is more pertinent information, racial cues play less of a role.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science
- Public Administration