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A psychological model of transparent communication effectiveness

Toby Hopp (Department of Advertising, Public Relations and Media Design, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Jolene Fisher (Department of Advertising, Public Relations and Media Design, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 9 October 2020

Issue publication date: 24 February 2021




When it comes to tactics that organizational communicators can undertake to elicit positive gains with stakeholders, transparent communication ranks high on lists proposed by both the scholarly and trade literatures. However, little is known about why such communication tactics are effective on a psychological level. Thus, this study aims to propose and test a psychological model of transparent communication effectiveness in the context of proactive, socially responsible brand communication. The model was based on three propositions: (1) transparent communication offers audiences an important opportunity to learn more about organizational functioning, (2) learning elicits an organizationally relevant positive affective state and (3) positive affect facilitates a robust relationship between perceived learning outcomes and positive evaluation of the organization.


This study used an experiment to test the hypothesized model.


Support was found for the proposed model. Specifically, the data indicated that the use of transparent massaging elicited higher levels of perceived learning. Perceived learning was associated with positive brand-relevant affect. Finally, positive brand relevant-affect predicted positive summary brand evaluation.


Taken as a whole, the current findings inform theorizing on transparent organizational and brand communication by describing the foundational roles played by perceived knowledge gain and positive affect in encouraging positive message-related outcomes.



This project was supported by a Page Legacy Scholar Grant from The Arthur W. Page Center at The Pennsylvania State University’s College of Communications. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pennsylvania State University.


Hopp, T. and Fisher, J. (2021), "A psychological model of transparent communication effectiveness", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 403-419.



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