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The Persuasive Influence of a Fictional Character's Trustworthiness


Corresponding author: Markus Appel; e-mail:


The present research examined the role of a fictional character's trustworthiness on narrative persuasion. The authors suggest that trustworthiness indicators within the story, rather than paratextual cues (fact–fiction labeling) affect persuasive outcomes. An experiment on fuel-efficient driving behavior (green driving) was conducted, with behavioral intentions and self-reported behavior (3 weeks postexposure) as dependent variables. A story with a trustworthy character who introduced green driving behavior led to stronger intentions to engage in fuel-efficient driving among car owners than a story with a less trustworthy character who provided the same information or a control story. Low character trustworthiness was particularly detrimental to story-consistent intentions and behavior for recipients who were not deeply immersed into the story world (low narrative presence).