Babyfaces, Trait Inferences, and Company Evaluations in a Public Relations Crisis

14 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2014

See all articles by Gerald J. Gorn

Gerald J. Gorn

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST) - Department of Marketing

Yuwei Jiang

Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Gita Johar

Columbia Business School - Marketing

Date Written: March 7, 2014

Abstract

We investigate the effects of babyfaceness on the trustworthiness and judgments of a company’s chief executive officer in a public relations crisis. Experiment 1 demonstrates boundary conditions for the babyfaceness-honesty trait inference and its influence on company evaluations. Experiment 2 shows that trait inferences of honesty are drawn spontaneously but are corrected in the presence of situational evidence (a severe crisis) if cognitive resources are available. We demonstrate that these babyface-trait associations underlie evaluations by reversing the babyface effect on judgments in (a) experiment 3, where a priming task creates associations counter to the typical babyface–unintentional harm stereotype, and (b) experiment 4, which creates a situation where innocence is a liability.

Keywords: Brand, Public Relations, Trait Inferences, Babyface, Crisis

Suggested Citation

Gorn, Gerald J. and Jiang, Yuwei and Johar, Gita, Babyfaces, Trait Inferences, and Company Evaluations in a Public Relations Crisis (March 7, 2014). Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 35, No. 3, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2405842

Gerald J. Gorn

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST) - Department of Marketing ( email )

Clear Water Bay, Kowloon

Yuwei Jiang (Contact Author)

Hong Kong Polytechnic University ( email )

Hong Kong
China

Gita Johar

Columbia Business School - Marketing ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

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