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Analyzing Credibility:  A Study Examining
Demographic Factors and Personality Traits
that Influence Military Public Affairs' Credibility


Abstract

       Credibility is a characteristic of a person who is perceived by others to be a trusted advisor, believable, and confident by exhibiting a high level of expertise in a certain subject.  The most important aspect to credibility is that it is an attributed variable.  This characteristic can be considered a communication-based variable since it is the outcome of certain communication behavior, whether analyzed in an interpersonal or organizational setting.  There are many aspects to credibility that have been studied in social science research.  This study looks at how certain demographic factors and adaptive trait behaviors can positively or negatively manipulate an individualís credibility when that individual is a newcomer to the organization.  This study examines is the interaction between the new Public Affairs Officer (PAO) serving his first tour and his new command staff.
       With Likert-type surveys, this study proposes assessing the self-reported levels of three trait-like behaviors of the new PAO.  We view these traits as influential behaviors associated with high credibility.  Specifically, we questioned how certain trait-like behaviors such as communication competency, assertiveness, and interaction involvement affect a personís perceived credibility and whether demographic factors affect PAOsí credibility as they enter public affairs within their respective service branches.  Realizing this studyís findings could be highly speculative and there are possibly many other factors which could influence credibility, we feel the findings based upon these conceptualized variables will introduce a novel approach toward helping new PAOs better understand the complex dynamics of credibility.

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