The Effect of Attribution on Athlete Scandals: Consumer Responses Toward Scandalized Athletes and Endorsements

Daehwan Kim
Yong Jae Ko
Joon Sung Lee
and Shintaro Sato

The purpose of the current study, drawing on attribution theory, was to investigate consumers’ attribution process and its impact on their responses to a scandalized athlete and endorsement. The results of the experiment indicate that the distinctiveness of an athlete scandal prompts external attribution while having a negative impact on internal attribution. Additionally, the consistency of an athlete scandal triggers internal attribution. Moreover, the results show that internal (external) attribution has direct negative (positive) impact on attitude toward the scandalized athlete. Lastly, the results show that consumers’ attribution type indirectly determines the consumer responses toward the troubled athlete and endorsement perception. Findings of the current study provide empirical evidence to explain what informational cues consumers utilize when making causal inferences and how such causal inferences subsequently affect the consumer responses. Th e current study also provides marketing managers with useful implications to make informed decisions in the athlete transgression context.