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A Personality-Competence Model of Opinion Leadership


Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: Timo Gnambs, Institute of Psychology, University of Osnabrück, Seminarstr. 20, 49069 Osnabrück, Germany, E-mail:


Opinion leaders constitute a central consumer segment for targeted marketing strategies. By separating opinion leadership into a generalized and domain-specific component, this study examines the psychological profile of N = 417 consumers from Germany and incorporates opinion leadership into a hierarchical framework of human personality. Results emphasize two major sources of domain-specific opinion leadership (DSOL): personality in the form of a general, domain-independent influencer trait and competencies in terms of product-specific knowledge. Moreover, the study highlights a number of traits including the Big Five of personality, typical intellectual engagement, and general self-efficacy that form a distinct personality profile of DSOL. The effects of these personality traits on DSOL are partially mediated by generalized opinion leadership and objective knowledge.