Lay concepts of source likeability, trustworthiness, expertise, and power: A prototype analysis

Laura E. Wallace, Kay A. Simon, Duane T. Wegener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Previous research on persuasion has used researcher-generated exemplars to manipulate source characteristics such as likeability, trustworthiness, expertise, or power. This approach has been fruitful, but it relies to some degree on an overlap between researcher understanding of these variables and lay understanding of these variables. Additionally, these exemplar manipulations may have unintentionally affected multiple characteristics and may be limited to certain topics or time periods. In the current work, we sought to provide persuasion researchers with a methodological tool to increase construct and potentially external validity by conducting a prototype analysis of the four traditional source characteristics: likeability, trustworthiness, expertise, and power. This bottom-up approach provided insight into the ways in which recipients perceive sources and allowed us to examine relations between the characteristics. Moving forward, a bottom-up understanding of source characteristics will allow researchers to more effectively develop manipulations that might transcend time and topic as well as isolate their effects to the intended source characteristic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1188-1201
Number of pages14
JournalBehavior Research Methods
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (DGE-1343012).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Psychonomic Society, Inc.


  • Expertise
  • Likeability
  • Persuasion
  • Power
  • Sources
  • Trustworthiness


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