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Credibility - the Halo Effect

What factors make up credibility?

Competence is the first major component in the credibility puzzle. Go back to the list of the names at the top of this article. They are/were all very competent people. Competence is a cornerstone of credibility. (Notice that competence isn�t correlated with having good values, morals or the best interests of others.) You can fake competence for awhile but eventually competence is tested and it makes or breaks you. Competence is expertise. It is your qualification(s).

Golden Key: Building your true competence level and building the perception of your competence are two separate projects.

a) You must be the expert.
b) You must be perceived as the expert.

What specifically do you want to work on? (McCroskey and Young 1981) You want to work on the seven subscales (continuums) of competence with those two goals in mind.

Critical: You want to be competent and you want to be perceived as competent. It does you no good at all to be competent and perceived otherwise.


  1. Are you experienced or inexperienced?
  2. Are you perceived as being experienced or inexperienced?
  3. Are you informed or uninformed?
  4. Are you perceived as being informed or uninformed?
  5. Are you trained or untrained?
  6. Are you perceived as being trained or being untrained?
  7. Are you qualified or unqualified?
  8. Are you perceived as being qualified or unqualified?
  9. Are you skilled or unskilled?
  10. Are you perceived as being skilled or unskilled?
  11. Are you intelligent or unintelligent?
  12. Are you perceived as being intelligent or unintelligent?
  13. Are you an expert or not?
  14. Are you perceived as an expert or not?

The Six Factors of Credibility

  1. Competence (Building true competence and the perception of, are two different things)


  2. Trustworthiness


  3. Expertise


  4. Likeability (not a jerk, nonthreatening on whole, fun or funny, friendly)


  5. Composure (poised)


  6. Sociability (extroversion)
It's important to understand that each of the six factors of credibility have their elements or factors as well.

For example, with the factor of competence, McCroskey and Young have found that there are...


7 scales of competence:

a) being experienced,
b) informed,
c) trained,
d) qualified,
e) skilled,
f) intelligent and
g) an expert

So credibility stands on six pillars and each of those pillars stands on other pillars.

Credibility is not a quick fix kind of a thing....

Suffice it to say that you want to have long-term credibility and that means creating a brand, even if it is you, that people can trust and be seen as an expert, not by bogus positioning, but by adding tangible value to your field.

So don't just write a book. Write a book that is GOOD and actually says something of value.


People Identify with Faces

It's worth knowing that people identify with faces.

So get video of you on your website, let people see you and observe you communicate. You don't need to be elegant, just be you. Be real, authentic.

The process of uploading video to a website is perhaps going to take 30 minutes including creating the 5 minute "hello" and insight. So, do that.


Borrow Credibility

Another rapid credibility builder is to borrow someone else's who trusts you.

Endorsements, celebrity endorsements, testimonials, research studies about your product/brand/you, etc.

For the long term, do business with people in such a way that your future customers tell you the same story about you: "I heard great things about you, had to give you a try."


Credibility and Influence

Let's bring this up to the context and purpose of the interview. It's about growing a business, creating a successful life, venture or even a relationship. And to succeed in these areas you must be able to influence.

There are four elements of the persuasive setting...


  • the context
  • the persuader
  • the message
  • the audience/recipient

The first three dimensions require high credibility for success.

Credibility Building Words

  • Experienced
  • Qualified
  • Trained
  • Skilled
  • Intelligent
  • Expert
  • Informed
  • "As seen on TV"
  • Has 25 years of experience.

In any situation you have four ways to visibly show personal credibility.

1) Behave in an extroverted fashion.
(Being bold vs. timid. Being verbal vs. quiet. Being aggressive vs. meek.)

2) Be composed, especially "under pressure."
So be poised not nervous.
Be relaxed, not tense.
Be calm, not anxious.

3) Be Likable.
Be good-natured vs. irritable.
Be cheerful vs. gloomy.
Be friendly vs. unfriendly..


Then, think in terms of evidence....

Cite evidence...and source.

Argue against your own point of view. If you really want to win your audience, argue the polar position...the other candidate's viewpoint. The more you say that surprises your audience, the more credibility you gain.

"I used to feel the same way until I found xyz...." or "I used to think x but what I didn't know at the time was that...." or "I used think that as well, but what I didn't know was...."

This allows you to help the other person/audience understand that you understand their struggle with your message and shows clearly that you can identify with them in addition to giving them a piece of tangible evidence.

Be likable. It affects the listener's perception of your TRUSTWORTHINESS and THAT is the second key to credibility. Read a book like, "Talk Your Way to the Top" or Irresistible Attraction to enhance your charismatic influence with others.

Use humor...carefully. Don't tell jokes. Tell stories with surprise and self deprecating humor. Use humor sparingly but let people laugh.

What are some surprises about credibility?

Q. What are some surprises about people's credibility?

A. It never ceases to amaze me how often people who are honest and have high integrity are perceived as untruthful in high-powered communications settings. Indeed, the opposite is also true. The dishonest and crooked are often perceived as truthful and people of high integrity.

Why is this?

Credibility is in the eye of the perceiver.

You will not be perceived as credible if you don't meet your perceiver's standards.

The law of persuasion to keep in mind here is the Law of Friends:


"When someone asks you to do something and you perceive that person to have your best interests in mind, and/or you would like him to have your best interests in mind, you are strongly motivated to fulfill the request."


The First Rule of Credibility

The first rule of credibility is never to tell another person more than he can believe. Your product, service, or idea may be the best there is and solve all the problems in the world... but if the perceiver doesn't think it can do all this and more, he won't want anything to do with it or you. You will be perceived as exaggerating and this will result in a LOSE/LOSE situation.

You must be ready to point out the negative aspects of your service. Even Mac has bad points! (Not many, but they are there.)

If you can point out a negative aspect about your product, service, or idea, you'll disarm the perceiver from trying to find it, leaving him to focus on the benefits. You gain great credibility when you appear objective looking at your own products, services, ideas, and opinions.

The second thing you can do to appear credible is to be precise, Instead of saying that you lost twenty pounds, say the truth. You lost seventeen pounds! That sounds 100 percent believable.

A famous example of precision is Dove soap advertising itself as 99.44% pure. Now, I doubt that if you chemically broke it down you would come up with 99.44% pure. It's probably more. But that number sounds exactly right, doesn't it? Or Domestos kills 99% of germs - it's just the same. You would never question it.

If your computer software will save a company 28% say it will save them 28%. Don't say30%.

Products or services that sell for $500 give the appearance of a negotiable price, but those that sell for $497 appear to have a less negotiable price.

Use Written Testimonials. Another key step in gaining credibility is to have written documentation by objective parties. You can say something to make a sale and it may be suspect. For someone else with nothing to gain from the transaction to say something incredible about you or your product is a big credibility builder.


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If I didn't include a news section about my site's topic on my home page, then I could include it here.