Studies examining factors that influence credibility perceptions have demonstrated the importance of a source’s gender and attractiveness. However, scholars have only begun to extend these findings to credibility in the context of mediated sports. This experiment tested the relationship that gender and attractiveness have with credibility and whether this varies as a function of the gender of the athlete in a given story. Results indicate that reporters’ gender and attractiveness and athlete gender affect perceptions of credibility such that when reporters are of the opposite gender of an athlete, they are perceived as most credible when they are less attractive. Results also reveal a gender bias such that reporters are perceived as most credible when covering male athletes, regardless of reporter gender. Explanations are offered for these findings, in addition to a discussion of the implications for news practitioners.
Hahn, a graduate student, and Cummins, his advisor, are with the College of Mass Communications, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX.