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Seeking The Public's Engagement: Celebrities, Experts, and the Fight Against Global Poverty

Morini, P; (2017) Seeking The Public's Engagement: Celebrities, Experts, and the Fight Against Global Poverty. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Celebrities are a common feature of many campaigns to fight global poverty. However, increasingly, academics, practitioners, and the public express doubts on their ability to promote public engagement. Expert messengers, such as activists or NGO workers, could pose an alternative to celebrities. To contribute to this debate, the thesis asks whether celebrities and experts can be used as effective messengers in global poverty campaigns aimed at engaging the British public. The work integrates insights from the literature on political engagement, theoretical models on persuasive communication from social psychology, and experimental social science research methods. Research on political engagement looks at individuals' attitudes and political behaviours towards a political issue. Effective campaigns are recognised as an important driver of both factors, with current research analysing the effectiveness of different communication strategies aimed at engaging the public. I propose an adapted version of a dual-pathway model of information processing which looks at the persuasive role of experts and celebrities in charity campaigns. I hypothesise that trust in experts and celebrities depends on the recipients' personal characteristics. Furthermore, I hypothesise that a celebrity endorsements of a message can act as heuristic cues to a temporary attitude and behaviour change. Expert endorsements can also work as heuristic cues, but they can also stimulate cognition around the campaign?s message. This promotes stronger changes in attitudes and behaviours. The thesis includes three results. First, I provide evidence of the effectiveness of expert messengers, who can engage both previously uninvolved members of the public and reinforce the engagement of previously involved ones. Secondly, I find only limited evidence on the celebrity endorsements hypothesis, with mixed results on their effectiveness at engaging uninvolved individuals. Thirdly, I find that individuals' characteristics drive their credibility perceptions of experts and celebrities, positing that more targeted messages could increase the campaigns' effectiveness.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Seeking The Public's Engagement: Celebrities, Experts, and the Fight Against Global Poverty
Event: UCL
Language: English
Keywords: Celebrities, Political engagement, Global poverty, Charity campaigns, Attitudes, Experts
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1515872
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