Does Race Matter? Implicit and Explicit Measures of the Effect of the PR Spokesman’s Race on Evaluations of Spokesman Source Credibility and Perceptions of a PR Crisis’ Severity

Seoyeon Hong, Maria E. Len-Riós

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-80
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Public Relations Research
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration

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