Date of Graduation

8-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Recreation and Sport Management (EdD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Health, Human Performance and Recreation

Advisor

Stephen W. Dittmore

Committee Member

Merry L. Moiseichik

Second Committee Member

Jean Henry

Third Committee Member

Robert Brady

Keywords

Social sciences; Cultivation; Image; Source credibility

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine how knowledge of a professional athlete’s charitable involvement affects fans’ perceptions of the athlete’s performance, source credibility, and image, as well as fans’ future behavior intentions. Cultivation theory influenced the study, as it relates to how media portrayal of athletes affects fans’ perceptions. A perceived imbalance between (more) negative and (fewer) positive stories also influenced the study. The study is significant in that, given significant positive relationships between this knowledge of charitable involvement and these variables, athletes and teams could choose to promote players’ charitable initiatives more. This could potentially impact the media cycle, giving fans a more comprehensive depiction of professional athletes.

Six research questions guided the study: RQ1 asked how knowledge of an athlete’s charitable involvement affects sport fans’ perceptions of his performance, RQ2a asked how this knowledge affects sport fans’ perceptions of his expertise, RQ2b asked how this knowledge affects sport fans’ perceptions of his attractiveness, RQ2c asked how this knowledge affects sport fans’ perceptions of his trustworthiness, RQ3 asked how this knowledge affects sport fans’ perceptions of his image, and RQ4 asked how this knowledge affects fans’ future behavior intentions. The study was conducted using a survey instrument that measured each of these dependent variables. The participants were 187 undergraduate students in sport-related classes at the same university. While all participants received information about Tyrone Scott, a fictional professional football player, there were three different treatments introduced: some participants received additional information about Scott’s charitable contributions, some received information about Scott’s off-the-field troubles, and some did not receive any additional information.

A one-way MANOVA analysis was conducted, and it was significant, F(12, 358) = 18.09, p < .0001, Wilk’s λ = 0.612, partial η2 = 0.38, at the Bonferroni adjusted level of 0.0167. Significant differences were observed on each of the dependent variables. In all cases, positive treatment scores were significantly higher than negative treatment scores. “No treatment” scores were significantly higher than negative treatment scores on all variables but future behavior intentions. Positive treatment scores were significantly higher than “no treatment” scores on trustworthiness and image.

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