Celebrity Scandal Fallout: How Attribution Style Can Protect the Sponsor


Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: Nam-Hyun Um, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, University of Wisconsin at Whitewater 1, University Station A1200, Whitewater, WI 53190-1790 (umn@uww.edu).


An attribution is an inference about why an event occurred or about a person's disposition or other psychological state. This study is designed to examine the effects of consumers’ attribution styles (i.e., dispositional and situational) and moderating role of celebrity identification and brand commitment in the evaluation of negative information about a celebrity endorser. The study finds that people who make dispositional attributions judge the endorsed brand more negatively than do those who make situational attributions. The findings also suggest that consumers with a higher level of identification with the celebrity are less likely to react negatively to the bad publicity. Finally, the study found that, when faced with a celebrity scandal, people with high brand commitment showed more favorable attitudes toward the brand as well as higher purchase intention than those with low brand commitment.