The Persuasiveness of Source Credibility: A Critical Review of Five Decades' Evidence


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Chanthika Pornpitakpan, who is now at School of Business, Monash University Malaysia, No. 2, Jalan Kolej, Bandar Sunway, 46150 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia. E-mail: ynvynv@yahoo. com and chanthika@fastmail.f.


This paper reviews the empirical evidence of the effect of credibility of the message source on persuasion over a span of 5 decades, primarily to come up with recommendations for practitioners as to when to use a high- or a low-credibility source and secondarily to identify areas for future research. The main effect studies of source credibility on persuasion seem to indicate the superiority of a high-credibility source over a low-credibility one. Interaction effect studies, however, show source credibility to be a liability under certain conditions. The variables found to interact with source credibility are categorized into 5 categories: source, message, channel, receiver, and destination variables. The most heavily researched variables have been the message and receiver variables. Implications for marketers/advertisers and suggestions for future research are discussed.