Masters Thesis

Social Judgment Involvement's Effect on Credibility: How Offensive Remarks Damage Instructor Credibility.

This study explored an application of Social Judgment Involvement Theory in the higher education classroom. To accomplish this, an investigation of how highly sensitive issues that trigger high ego involvement was conducted to observe the effect upon the credibility of the instructor. The experiment explored how a student audience reacted to a politically charged message that fell within their latitudes of rejection. The first step was to identify the participants’ ego involvement with the politically sensitive issue. They then read a potentially disagreeable scenario and recorded their perception of the instructor’s credibility. There was a significant difference between the disagreement with the message evoking ego involvement and negative perceptions of instructor credibility. The study also measured which construct of credibility was affected the most by the disagreement. Students recorded a lower rating of perceived goodwill than trustworthiness or competence. However, the magnitude of that difference was minimal though still statistically significant. This study can inform instructors about that when discussing sensitive issues, there is a risk to credibility.

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