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Credibility as a Source of Authority: Exploring how National Leaders Gain Credibility through their Performance

Government
Media
Political Leadership
Qualitative
Sabine van Zuydam
Tilburg School of Politics and Public Administration / Tilburg University
Sabine van Zuydam
Tilburg School of Politics and Public Administration / Tilburg University
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Abstract

Credibility is a source of authority that leaders – e.g. cabinet ministers, parliamentary party leaders – cannot do without. From the 1950s onwards research has shown that when speakers are competent, trustworthy, and caring for their audience they are more likely to be attributed credibility (Hovland, Janis & Kelley, 1953; McCroskey & Teven, 1999). What remains underexplored, however, is how credibility is enacted that audiences are convinced of their leaders’ competence, caring, and trustworthiness. To address this, the concept of performed credibility is introduced. Following the mediatization of politics (Strömback, 2008; Garzia, 2011), focus is on how political leaders perform in the media for an audience of citizens and the following question is addressed: how can it be understood from political leaders’ performances that citizens attribute more or less credibility to them? To answer this question, two Dutch leaders with a contrasting credibility are analyzed: Frans Timmermans and Diederik Samsom.