A Sign of Trust? The value of source attribution in accolade claims

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Mathew S. Isaac


Organizations that have received an accolade or honor often share this information with current or prospective customers, either in a digital (i.e., on their website, social media, etc.) or physical (i.e., on-premise signs, outdoor signs, etc.) format. When publicizing their achievement, marketers must make decisions related to source attribution—that is, how much detail to provide and how prominently (if at all) to mention the thirdparty entity that bestowed the accolade upon them. This is an important question, particularly with respect to physical signs where informational complexity is often detrimental and visual clarity is paramount. In this research, I examine whether source attribution in signage materially affects consumer evaluations and behavioral intentions. Across three studies, I find converging evidence that source attribution in accolade claims does in fact bolster evaluations and behavioral intentions, even in the context of physical signage when consumers are likely to be engaged in heuristic processing. Furthermore, I provide evidence that these more positive judgments arise because attribution increases perceived credibility of the organization receiving the accolade.

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