An attribution analysis of the effect of communicator characteristics on opinion change: The case of communicator attractiveness

Alice H. Eagly*, Shelly Chaiken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Conducted a study with 358 undergraduates to test the attribution hypothesis that message persuasiveness decreases to the extent that the position the communicator advocates is expected on the basis of a characteristic he possesses. Some Ss read a message by an attractive or unattractive communicator who espoused a desirable or undesirable position on 1 of 2 topics, while others, without reading the message, estimated the likelihood that the communicator would advocate each position. On expectancies, undesirable positions were judged more likely than desirable ones, and a Source Attractiveness × Position Desirability interaction showed attractive-desirable and unattractive-undesirable communicator-position pairings judged likelier than attractive-undesirable and unattractive-desirable pairings. On opinions, main effects showed attractive communicators more persuasive than unattractive communicators and desirable positions more persuasive than undesirable positions. However, a Source Attractiveness × Position Desirability interaction indicated that attractive communicators were more than unattractive ones given undesirable positions but only equally persuasive given desirable positions. The attractiveness main effect on opinions was interpreted in terms of communicator likability, while the parallelism between expectancies and opinions (and other responses) with regard to the other effects supported the attribution interpretation. Choice or no choice about receiving a message had only a marginal effect on opinion change. (22 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-144
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1975


  • opinion change, college students
  • position desirability, communicator persuasiveness &
  • source attractiveness &

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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