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The purpose of this paper is to present research on motivated bias and self-deception in ethical decision-making in public relations. Self-deception might explain how…
The purpose of this paper is to present research on motivated bias and self-deception in ethical decision-making in public relations. Self-deception might explain how professionals evade mental stress in conflicting situations and manage to be persuasive even when they have to act contrary to their own morals or to public interests. Since self-deception impedes moral reasoning, the research purpose is to gain insights on its origins so that effective counter-measures can be developed.
First, the state of research on moral dilemmas in public relations and on self-deception in psychology is outlined. Second, four professionals are interviewed to explore typical conflicts of interest and to develop a realistic scenario that gives rise to a moral dilemma. Third, a small sample of professionals (n=9) is confronted with the developed scenario in a qualitative online questionnaire to analyze their reasoning.
Results indicate that self-deception in response to moral dilemmas exists in public relations practice. Typical conflicts of interest, boundary conditions for motivated bias and counter-measures are identified. Experienced professionals in leading positions seem to have the confidence to reject mandates they perceive as immoral. Counter-measures against self-deception should therefore address young professionals and practitioners with low advisory influence.
While public relations research mostly presumes professionals as rational actors, this study sheds light on irrational practices. In contrast to common practice of expert interviews, an indirect and implicit methodological approach is applied to capture unconscious processes of motivated reasoning.
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects of a particular form of sponsorship disclaimer in sponsored content by social media influencers (SMIs), namely a…
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects of a particular form of sponsorship disclaimer in sponsored content by social media influencers (SMIs), namely a sponsorship compensation justification disclosure. A sponsorship compensation justification disclosure explains why influencers and brands engage in sponsorship collaborations by providing a normative reason that justifies the existence and dissemination of sponsored content.
An experimental design was used to compare the effects of a sponsorship compensation justification disclosure made by either an influencer or the sponsoring brand, to a simple sponsorship disclosure and a no disclosure control post, on consumers’ responses to a product-review video by a YouTube influencer.
The paper offers empirical evidence that sponsorship compensation justification generates more positive consumer attitudes toward influencers receiving sponsorship compensation, and increases source and message credibility, compared to a simple sponsorship disclosure.
The hypotheses were tested on one YouTube video, comprising of a single product category, one SMI and one social media platform. Further studies might replicate the experiment on different product categories and on different social media platforms.
This empirical study can offer brand communication managers and influencers important information on how to communicate and design sponsorship disclosures to reach-desired responses from consumers.
The study is the first study to empirically demonstrate the effects of this particular type of sponsorship disclosure.