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The Impact of Organizational Source Credibility and the Factors that Contribute to Opinion Leaders' Decisions to Diffuse...

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0024503/00001

Material Information

Title: The Impact of Organizational Source Credibility and the Factors that Contribute to Opinion Leaders' Decisions to Diffuse Information
Physical Description: 1 online resource (129 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Windham, Christy
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: agriculture, communication, credibility, dissemination, expertise, florida, flow, leaders, message, model, opinion, organizational, source, step, trust, two
Agricultural Education and Communication -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Agricultural Education and Communication thesis, M.S.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: This study examined source credibility of Florida agricultural organizations as viewed by Florida agricultural opinion leaders. In addition, this study sought to determine the amount of information that opinion leaders receive from Florida agriculture organizations as well as identify factors that contribute to an opinion leader disseminating an organization?s message. The theoretical framework in this study included the theory of source credibility and the two-step flow model of communication. The agricultural organizations used in this study were the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Farm Bureau Federation, University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the organization in which the respondent was most involved and other state agricultural organizations. The research design was a census study of intangibles. The population consisted of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resource alumni (N=163). Ninety-four alumni responded giving the survey a 57.7% response rate. Opinion leaders receive the majority of their information from organizations in which they are most involved. This study found that opinion leaders receive and find the most credible the information that comes from the organization in which they are most involved. Males rated the constructs relating to trustworthiness higher on the credibility scale while females rated the expertise constructs higher. For all organizations, the construct balanced was consistently rated lowest. In regards to FDACS and FFBF, younger opinion leaders rated them as more of experts than did older opinion leaders. UF/IFAS rated high on the expert constructs of credibility and low on trustworthy credibility constructs. Additionally, the factor that was most likely to cause an opinion leader to pass down an organizational message was ?the organization presents evidence to support its message.? Opinion leaders were least likely to pass down information from organizations when ?the organization?s intent is questionable.?
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Christy Windham.
Thesis: Thesis (M.S.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Stedman, Nicole LaMee Perez.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0024503:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0024503/00001

Material Information

Title: The Impact of Organizational Source Credibility and the Factors that Contribute to Opinion Leaders' Decisions to Diffuse Information
Physical Description: 1 online resource (129 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Windham, Christy
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: agriculture, communication, credibility, dissemination, expertise, florida, flow, leaders, message, model, opinion, organizational, source, step, trust, two
Agricultural Education and Communication -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Agricultural Education and Communication thesis, M.S.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: This study examined source credibility of Florida agricultural organizations as viewed by Florida agricultural opinion leaders. In addition, this study sought to determine the amount of information that opinion leaders receive from Florida agriculture organizations as well as identify factors that contribute to an opinion leader disseminating an organization?s message. The theoretical framework in this study included the theory of source credibility and the two-step flow model of communication. The agricultural organizations used in this study were the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Farm Bureau Federation, University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the organization in which the respondent was most involved and other state agricultural organizations. The research design was a census study of intangibles. The population consisted of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resource alumni (N=163). Ninety-four alumni responded giving the survey a 57.7% response rate. Opinion leaders receive the majority of their information from organizations in which they are most involved. This study found that opinion leaders receive and find the most credible the information that comes from the organization in which they are most involved. Males rated the constructs relating to trustworthiness higher on the credibility scale while females rated the expertise constructs higher. For all organizations, the construct balanced was consistently rated lowest. In regards to FDACS and FFBF, younger opinion leaders rated them as more of experts than did older opinion leaders. UF/IFAS rated high on the expert constructs of credibility and low on trustworthy credibility constructs. Additionally, the factor that was most likely to cause an opinion leader to pass down an organizational message was ?the organization presents evidence to support its message.? Opinion leaders were least likely to pass down information from organizations when ?the organization?s intent is questionable.?
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Christy Windham.
Thesis: Thesis (M.S.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Stedman, Nicole LaMee Perez.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0024503:00001


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THE IMPACT OF ORGANIZATIONAL SOU RCE CREDIBILITY AND THE FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO OPINION LEADERS DECISIONS TO DIFFUSE INFORMATION By CHRISTY CLAIRE WINDHAM A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2009 1

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2009 Christy Claire Windham 2

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To my grandmothers, Jean Ho lcombe and Frances Ishee, two of the greatest women Ive ever known 3

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Many people have been involved in the developm ent and presentation of this thesis. Each of them has been unique in their contributions, but all have been v itally important to the successful completion of my masters program. Firs t, I thank my parents, Jim and Robin, and my brother, Cliff. Their love, support, and constant encouragement have eased the stress of the past two years. Also, I thank my grandmothers, France s and Jean, to whom this work is dedicated. I have been very fortunate to have them as st rong examples of Christian women who have lived their lives with enormous courage and grace. I thank my best friend, Hannah, who is more of a sister than a friend. I have depe nded on our frequent phone calls to bring humor into my day and to lift my spirit with her inf ectious attitude. Additionally, I have to thank my sweet dog, Maggie, for snuggling next to me for hours on end as I wrot e page after page, and also for providing me with immense entertainment and good company. Next, I thank my thesis committee. First, I thank Dr. Nicole Stedman who served as my committee chair. Dr. Stedman provided endless patience with my many questions and always gave me the affirmation I needed on the days I fe lt like this study was useless. Additionally, Dr. Stedman provided tremendous structure to the res earch process, practical solutions to writing roadblocks and friendship during difficult days. I thank Dr. Hanna h Carter for her friendship and our lunch talks. Dr. Carter was most valuable in helping to keep my thesis in perspective. After our discussions, I always left feeling less overwhe lmed. Her ability to help others maintain a positive attitude is truly a gift. I thank Dr. Ri cky Telg whose experience provided the guidance I needed for this study. His green pen truly made my thesis grow and his questions challenged me to think deeper about this study. Dr. Telg is a tremendous writer and I was very fortunate to work with him and learn from his edits. Also, I thank Dr. Ed Osborne for his encouragement and 4

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leadership to this department. Dr. Osborne played a key role in the development of my survey instrument and went above and beyond in helpin g me think through the survey design process. My fellow graduate students have made my time as a masters student at the University of Florida truly unforgettable. In dividuals like Katy Groseta, Katie Abrams, Carrie Pedreiro, Courtney Meyers, Brian Estevez, Erica Der, Amanda Brumby, Anna Warner, Diane Mashburn, Charlie Nealis, Audrey Vail, Katelyn Crow, Ky le Landrum, Tre Easterly, Rochelle Strickland, Crystal Mathews, Lauren Dillard, and many ot hers are what make the Department of Agricultural Education and Co mmunication at the University of Florida so wonderful. Next, I thank my church family at First Bapt ist Alachua. While the University of Florida was helping me to grow intellectually, this church has grown me spiritually and in my walk with Jesus. They have been the sweet est people and I cannot imagine th ese past two years without the influence of this church and its members. Finally, I thank my fianc, Elio. I th ank him for his energy, ambition, faith, encouragement, and most of all his love. I could count on him not only to li sten to my research progress, but to challenge me and offer new pers pectives. Im fortunate to be spending my life with someone who pushes me to think deeper an d whose contagious spirit and love for life influences all that I do. His unwavering faith in my ability to be successful in writing this thesis has meant more to me than he could ever know. As I look ahead to life after graduation, the one thing I am most excited a bout is being his wife. 5

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TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ............................................................................................................... 4LIST OF TABLES ...........................................................................................................................9ABSTRACT ...................................................................................................................... .............12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................ ..14Introduction to the Study ........................................................................................................14Problem Statement ............................................................................................................. .....18Purpose of the Study .......................................................................................................... .....18Significance of the Study ........................................................................................................19Limitations ................................................................................................................... ...........20Assumptions ................................................................................................................... ........20Definition of the Terms ..........................................................................................................21Chapter Summary ...................................................................................................................222 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ........................................................................................23Theoretical Framework ...........................................................................................................23Source Credibility ............................................................................................................24Two-Step Flow Model of Communication ......................................................................27Opinion Leaders ............................................................................................................... .......29Defining Opinion Leadership ..........................................................................................30Opinion Leader Characteristics .......................................................................................30Agricultural Opinion Leaders ..........................................................................................31Opinion Leader Social Capital ........................................................................................32Opinion Leaders Interpersonal Relationships ................................................................34Opinion Leaders and the Diffusion of Innovations .........................................................35Sources of Agricultural News .................................................................................................35Factors Influencing Source Credibility ...................................................................................37Attitudes Towards the Communicator .............................................................................38Source Credibility and Cognitive Dissonance .................................................................39Attitude Toward the Message Issue ................................................................................41Chapter Summary ...................................................................................................................423 METHODOLOGY ................................................................................................................. 43Research Design .....................................................................................................................43Population .................................................................................................................... ...........44Procedure ..................................................................................................................... ...........45Instrumentation ............................................................................................................... ........47Data Analysis ..........................................................................................................................49 6

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Summary ....................................................................................................................... ..........514 RESULTS ..................................................................................................................... ..........52Demographics .................................................................................................................. .......53Gender & Age .................................................................................................................. 53Education .........................................................................................................................53Leadership Position .........................................................................................................53Objective 1 ..............................................................................................................................54Objective 2 ..............................................................................................................................56Objective 3 ..............................................................................................................................84Objective 4 ..............................................................................................................................92Summary ....................................................................................................................... ..........935 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS .................................................................94Summary of Findings .............................................................................................................95Objective 1 .......................................................................................................................95Objective 2 .......................................................................................................................97Organizational Individual Construct Ratings ...........................................................97Organizational Credibility Index ..............................................................................97Florida Department of Agricultu re and Consumer Services ....................................98University of Florida/IFAS ......................................................................................98Organization that Respondent s were Most Involved ...............................................99Other State Organizations ........................................................................................99Objective 3 .....................................................................................................................100Objective 4 .....................................................................................................................102Conclusions ...........................................................................................................................103Discussion and Implications .................................................................................................10 5Information Reception from Organizations ...................................................................105Organizational Credibility .............................................................................................105Factors that Encourage Diffusion of Messages .............................................................109Personality Factors and Message Dissemination ..........................................................109National Research Agenda ...................................................................................................110Recommendations ............................................................................................................... ..110Recommendations for Practice ......................................................................................111Recommendations for Future Research .........................................................................111Summary ....................................................................................................................... ........112 APPENDIX A INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL ..........................................................113B SURVEY COMPLETION REQUESTS ..............................................................................114Pre-Survey E-Mail ............................................................................................................. ...114Initial Contact Email ......................................................................................................... ....115 7

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Follow-Up Contact Email .....................................................................................................116Final Follow-Up Contact Email ............................................................................................117C OPINION LEADER SURV EY QUESTIONNAIRE ...........................................................118LIST OF REFERENCES .............................................................................................................125BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................................129 8

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LIST OF TABLES Table page 4-1 Frequencies and Percentages of Demographic Information ..............................................544-2 Opinion Leaders Information Reception fr om State Agricultural Organizations Mean Scores ........................................................................................................................ .........554-3 List and Frequencies of Organizations that Respondents are Most Involved (n=56) ........554-4 One-Way Analysis of Variance Signifi cant Relationships between Florida Farm Bureau Information Reception and Demographics............................................................564-5 One-Way Analysis of Variance Signif icant Relationships between Organization Most Involved by Respondent and Demographics ............................................................564-6 Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Credibility Construct Means (n=78) .....................................................................................................................574-7 Florida Farm Bureau Federation Cr edibility Construct Means (n=80) .............................574-8 University of Florida/ IFAS Cr edibility Construct Means (n=83) ....................................584-9 Organization in which the Respondent is Most Involved Credibility Construct Means (n=78) .................................................................................................................................584-10 Other State Organizations Cred ibility Construct Means (n=74) .......................................594-11 Credibility Index of Organizations ....................................................................................594-12 Florida Department of Agriculture and C onsumer Services Credibility Construct Means by Gender (n=78) ...................................................................................................604-13 Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Credibility Construct Means by Age (n=79) ........................................................................................................614-14 Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Credibility Construct Means by Education Level (n=79) .....................................................................................624-15 Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Credibility Construct Means by Leadership Position (n=80) ...............................................................................634-16 Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Credibility Construct Means by Length of Leadership Position (n=69) ..............................................................644-17 Florida Farm Bureau Federation Credib ility Construct Means by Gender (n=77) ............644-18 Florida Farm Bureau Federation Credibility Construct Means by Age (n=78) .................65 9

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4-19 Florida Farm Bureau Federation Credibility Construct Means by Education Level (n=78) .................................................................................................................................664-20 Florida Farm Bureau Federation Credibility Construct Means by Leadership Position (n=79) .................................................................................................................................674-21 Florida Farm Bureau Federation Credibility Construct Means by Length of Leadership Position (n=68) ................................................................................................684-22 University of Florida Credibility Construct Means by Gender (n=80) .............................694-23 University of Florida/IFAS Credib ility Construct Means by Age (n=81) .........................704-24 University of Florida/IFAS Credibility Construct Means by Education Level (n=81) .....714-25 University of Florida/IFAS Credibility Construct Means by Leadership Position (n=82) .................................................................................................................................714-26 University of Florida/IFAS Credibility Construct Means by Length of Leadership Position (n=71) ............................................................................................................... ...734-27 Organization Respondent was Most Invol ved Credibility Construct Means by Gender (n=76) .................................................................................................................................734-28 Organization Respondent was Most Involved Credibility Construct Means by Age (n=77) .................................................................................................................................744-29 Organization Respondent was Most Involved Credibility Construct Means by Education Level (n=77) .....................................................................................................754-30 Organization Respondent was Most Involved Credibility Construct Means by Leadership Position (n=78) ................................................................................................764-31 Organization Respondent was Most Invol ved Credibility Construct Means by Length of Leadership Position (n=69) ...........................................................................................774-32 Other State Organizations Cred ibility Construct Means by Gender (n=72) ......................784-33 Other State Organizations Cred ibility Construct Means by Age ( n=73) ...........................794-34 Other State Organizatio ns Credibility Construct Means by Education Level ( n=74) .......804-35 Other State Organizations Credibility Construct Means by Leadership Position ( n=74) ........................................................................................................................... .....804-36 Other State Organizations Credibility Construct Means by Length of Leadership Position (n=65) ............................................................................................................... ...81 10

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4-37 One-Way Analysis of Variance Sign ificant Relationships between Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Credibility Constructs and Respondents Gender .........................................................................................................824-38 One-Way Analysis of Variance Sign ificant Relationships between UF/IFAS Credibility Constructs and Respondents Gender ..............................................................834-39 One-Way Analysis of Variance Sign ificant Relationships between UF/IFAS Credibility Constructs and Re spondents Education Level ...............................................834-40 One-Way Analysis of Variance Signifi cant Relationships between the Organization Respondents are Most Involved Credibility Constructs and Leadership Position ...........834-41 One-Way Analysis of Variance Signif icant Relationships between Other State Organizations Credibility Constructs and Gender .............................................................834-42 One-Way Analysis of Variance Signif icant Relationships between Other State Organizations Credibility Cons tructs and Education Level ...............................................844-43 Frequencies and Percentages of Factors that Influenced Information Dissemination by Florida Opinion Leaders (n=79) ...................................................................................864-44 Frequencies and Percentages of Extrovers ion Factors of Florida Agriculture Opinion Leaders ...............................................................................................................................884-45 Frequencies and Percentages of Introver sion Factors of Florida Agriculture Opinion Leaders ...............................................................................................................................894-46 Pearson Correlation Between Person ality Factors and Message Factors ..........................904-47 Pearson Correlation Between Messa ge Factors and Personality Factors ..........................904-48 Pearson Correlation Between Person ality Factors and Message Factors ..........................914-49 Pearson Correlation Between Person ality Factors and Message Factors ..........................914-52 Pearson Correlation Between Organizational Credibility Factors and Scale Message Factors ....................................................................................................................... .........924-53 Pearson Correlation Between Organizational Credibility Factors and Scale Message Factors ....................................................................................................................... .........93 11

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Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science THE IMPACT OF ORGANIZATIONAL SOU RCE CREDIBILITY AND THE FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO OPINION LEADERS DECISIONS TO DIFFUSE INFORMATION By Christy Claire Windham May 2009 Chair: Nicole Stedman Major: Agricultural Edu cation and Communication This study examined source credibility of Flor ida agricultural organi zations as viewed by Florida agricultural opin ion leaders. In addition, this study sought to determine the amount of information that opinion leaders receive from Florida agricult ure organizations as well as identify factors that contribute to an opinion leader disseminating an organizations message. The theoretical framework in this study included th e theory of source credibility and the two-step flow model of communication. The agricultural organizations used in this study were the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Servic es, Florida Farm Bureau Federation, University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sc iences, the organization in which the respondent was most involved and other st ate agricultural organizations. The research design was a census study of in tangibles. The population consisted of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agricultur e and Natural Resource alumni (N=163). Ninetyfour alumni responded giving the survey a 57.7% response rate. Opinion leaders receive the majority of their information from organi zations in which they are most involved. This study found that opinion leaders receive and find the most credible the information that comes from the organization in which they are most involved. Male s rated the constructs 12

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13 relating to trustworthiness highe r on the credibility scale while females rated the expertise constructs higher. For all organizations, the construct balanced was consistently rated lowest. In regards to FDACS and FFBF, younger opinion lead ers rated them as more of experts than did older opinion leaders. UF/IFAS rated high on the expert constructs of credibility and low on trustworthy credibility constructs. Additionally, the factor that was most likely to cause an opinion leader to pass down an organizational message was the organization presents evidence to support its message. Opinion leaders were least likely to pass down informati on from organizations when the organizations intent is questionable.

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Introduction to the Study The Florida agricultural industry ranks s econd in the overall state economy (Woods, 2008). Floridas agricultural industry produces 280 commodities (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 20 07) that were credited with $137 billion in sales revenue for the state in 2007 (Woods, 2008). Not only does the agricultural indust ry produce important revenue for the state, but the indus try also provides jobs that are essential for the stability of the states economy. Woods (2008) stat ed, Agriculture, natural res ources, and related industries provide direct employment of 1.5 million people in full-time and part-time jobs ( 15). This significant number of jobs equate s to approximately 14.2 percent of all jobs in Florida as being dependent upon the agriculture industry (Woods, 2008). Despite the significant numbers of jobs and revenue that the agricultural sector provides on an annual basis, and while some individuals within the industry refer to it as thriving (Woods, 2008), the Florida agricultural indust ry is not immune to natural and manmade problems, such as disease, drought, immigration, and urban sp rawl (Woods, 2006; Bayl es, 2007; Brick-Turin, 2007; Zwick & Carr, 2006). It has been estimated that diseases, such as citrus canker could severely tarnish approximately 20% of the st ates $9 billion commercial citrus industry (Gottwald, Graham, & Schubert, 2002). Drought in Florida has been reported to cost the agricultural industry $100 million a month with total losses summing to more than $1 billon (Bayles, 2007). There are appr oximately 300,000 migrant workers in Florida (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2008) with an estimated 70 % of them being illegal immigrants (Lee, 2004). Currently, the state is st ruggling with immigration reform, but without migrant workers, Florida agriculture could incur long-term producti on losses exceeding $1.3 14

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billon (Brick-Turin, 2007). Finally, it has been approximated based on the rapid urban sprawl occurring in the state th at within the next fifty years, roughly 7 million acres of additional land will be converted from rural to urban uses in Florida, including 2.7 million acres of existing agricultural lands (Zwick & Carr, 2006). These reports alone refer to only four issues facing the Florida agricultural industry and based upon their results, it is easy understand that there are multiple issues throughout the industry that must be effectively dealt with in order to ensure the success of the industry as a whole. With the agriculture industry supporting 1.5 m illion jobs (Woods, 2008), it is vital that the individuals who depend on the agriculture industr y to support their livelih oods receive credible information from industry leaders and organizations. Receiving credible information about the important issues in agriculture ensure that these individuals are able to make informed decisions regarding their livelihoods. However, because of the sizeable number of commodities produced in Florida, there are a myriad of information s ources available to agricultural leaders seeking to be informed on important agricultural issues. Ye t, not all of informati on sources are congruent with the information that they provide about spec ific issues, leaving those individuals within the agricultural industry to decide which information is credible and can be trusted. A specific example of this message incongruence was seen in 2008 when Parker and Farmer (2008) claimed in an article within Farm & Ranch News an online publication targeted towards individuals involved in Floridas agri culture industry, that University of Florida president Bernard Machen stated, Agriculture is a dying industry in the State of Florida and not worthy of the investments being made by th e legislature ( 2). The alleged statement was made in reference to the impending budget cuts th at were to be made by the university. Although Machen vehemently denied this accusation in a personal statement, Florida agricultural leaders 15

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and their constituents continued to vehemently remind Machen that agriculture was indeed, not dying. Bouffard (2008) quoted Doug Bournique, executive director of the I ndian River Citrus League in Vero Beach, as stating, [Machens] getting a full-frontal attack from agriculture saying we are important," and that "the word's getting very strongly back to the University of Florida that agriculture is very important to this state it's the backbone ( 4). In addition, Bouffard (2008) also reporte d that within hours of the Farm & Ranch News article, more than 60 agricultural leaders from throughout the state of Florida particip ated in a conference call to address Machens alleged comments. While this is only one example, it sets the stage for understanding the importance of identifying sources of information agricultural in dustry leaders find the most credible and from which sources they base their decision making. In cidences such as the example provided create many questions for individuals involved in the agricultural communications field, but also for any person within the agricultura l industry. One must question w hy industry leaders appear to trust and give credence to an anonymous source in an online publication more than the fervent personal denial by a university pr esident. The statements attributed to Machen were distributed across the state by industry leaders in a matter of hours. What qualities existed within the online publication that caused such believability in the article? Likewise, what qualities caused Machens denial to go slightly unnoticed and largely distrusted? The answer to these questions and others similar in nature might be found by understanding how Flor ida agricultural opinion leaders perceive information from industry or ganizations and discoveri ng which organizational sources are regarded as credible enough for opinion leaders to diffuse the organizations information. 16

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Historically, opinion leaders have been recognized as an impor tant link in the diffusion of messages to the general public. Lazarsfeld, Be relson, and Gaudet (1948) conceptualized the diffusion of messages in a two-st ep flow model of communication. This model first highlighted opinion leaders as an important step in the diffusion of communi cation messages. The two-step flow model also asserts that information fr om the mass media is funneled down to opinion leaders who then pass the information along to individuals within th e public (Weiman, 1982). Other studies have elaborated th e original two-step flow model to include other steps in the dissemination of information, but the importance of opinion leaders and interpersonal influence continue to remain an important part in linking mass communication to the public. Researchers have also analyzed the credib ility, trustworthiness, and overall attitude towards communicators (Hovland & Weiss, 1954; Ke lman & Eagly, 1965; Sternthal, Phillips, & Dholakia, 1978). These studies have been conclusive in reporti ng that credibility, trustworthiness, and overall attitude toward s communicators play an important role in determining how the messages are perceived and accepted by the public. An initial review of the literature indicat es there is a gap in research, which includes studies analyzing organizations as sources of information and how opinion leaders utilize these organizations to gain information. As Fl ynn, Goldsmith, and Eastman (1996) explained, Consumers tend to trust the opinions of others more than they do formal marketer-dominated sources of information, such as advertising, and they use interpersonal sources to reduce risk and to make both store and brand choices (p. 137) Therefore, one could deduce that opinion leaders acceptance of an agricultural organi zation as credible has a major impact on the acceptance of the organization as credible by the general public. Re lating this statement to the agriculture industry, one could hypothesize that the amount of credibility given to an 17

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organization by agricultural opinion leaders directly affects the cred ibility that others involved in the industry give that same organization. Problem Statement The problem addressed by this study was the lack of understanding by academics and practitioners regarding the credibility of Florida agricultu ral organizations as perceived by agricultural opinion leaders. With the multiple information sources available, this research is valuable as it began the process of measuring the trustworthiness of influential agricultural organizations as sources of information. Add itionally, this research addressed the overall perceptions of industry organizations and the factors that contribut e to whether an opinion leader will distribute an organizations message. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to examine th e perceived source credibility of Florida agricultural organizations as view ed by Florida agricultural opinion leaders. In addition, this study sought to determine the amount of informat ion that opinion leaders receive from Florida agriculture organizations as well as identify f actors that contribute to an opinion leader disseminating an organizations message. The follow ing research objectives were used to guide this investigation: Objective 1: To determine the amount of in formation that Florid a agriculture opinion leaders receive from selected Fl orida agriculture organizations. Objective 2: To determine the perceptions of source credibility of selected organizations in Florida agriculture ut ilized by opinion leaders. Objective 3: To determine the factors that influence whether an opinion leader will disseminate an organizational me ssage to the general public. Objective 4: To describe the relationship between source credibility and opinion leaders decision to distribute information to the public. 18

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Significance of the Study The problem this study addressed is significan t because it aids in the understanding of agricultural industry organizations that are deemed credible by industry leaders. Healy (2005) stated, opinion polls for at least two decades ha ve shown declining faith in print and television news ( 4). With this lack in public confidence of media, there is great value in knowing which industry organizations are viewed as credible by indus try leaders. The results of this study coul d aid and make available to po licy makers the knowledge of which agricultural organizations shoul d be utilized in order to be vi ewed as credible by leaders in the agricultural industry. Healy (2005) quoted Project for Excellen ce in Journalism director Tom Rosenstield as stating the best each organization can do is try to improve its own credibility ( 7). This current study attempted to lay the gr oundwork for analyzing which agricultural organizations are currently deemed credible by industry leaders and which organizations should attempt to enhance their trustwor thiness throughout the industry. Furthermore, by understanding why opinion leaders trust some orga nizations as credible and not ot hers, associations can better tailor their communication efforts to maximize their credibility. Additionally, this study aided in the advancem ent of the National Research Agenda for Agricultural Education and Co mmunication (Osborne, n.d). Th is agenda provides research priority areas and initiatives for the years of 2007-2010. This curre nt study advanced research priority areas 1-3. The research priorities sugge sted by Osborne (n.d.) that this study addressed include: RPA 1: Enhance decision making within agricultural sectors of society. Discovering information that various stakeh olders need in order to make informed decisions. RPA 2: Within and among societie s, aid the public in effectively participating in public decisionmaking about high priority agricultural issues. 19

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Identifying, assimilating, disseminating, form atting and evaluating relevant information that facilitates public decision-making a bout high priority agricultural issues. RPA 3: Build competitive societal kn owledge and intellectual capabilities Understanding how information and media deliv ery affect thinking processes, problem solving, and decision making related to agriculture Limitations As with all educational research, this st udy was not immune from limitations affecting the generalizability of the repor ted findings. The first limitation is that the study was not based on a random sample, but rather a purposive sample. The study was purposive because the individuals participating in the leadership program studied are distin ct representatives of agriculture opinion leaders located throughout Flor ida. The Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources participants ar e the individuals that comprised this purposive sample. However, Ary, Jacobs, Razavieh, and Sorens o (2006) noted that one of the pitfalls to using a purposive sample is that there is no reas on to assume that the units judged to be typical of the population will continue to be typical over a period of time resulting in the possibility of purposive studies being misleading (p. 174). A second limitation is that the data in this study were self-reported. Selfreported scores are a limitation because it is possible that pa rticipants may not answer the questionnaire truthfully, thus obtaining inaccurate results in the study. Ary, Jacobs, Razavieh, and Sorenso (2006) asserted that self-reported instruments va lidity depends in pa rt on the respondents being able to read and understand the items, their understanding of them selves, and especially their willingness to give fra nk and honest answers (p. 225). Assumptions There are two basic assumptions in which this study relied. The first is the assumption that the study participants were truthful in their co mpletion of the survey instrument. An additional 20

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postulation is that the opinion leaders were fam iliar enough with the sources used in the study to accurately judge the sources credibility. Definition of the Terms This section operationally defines terms in th e manner that they were used in the study. FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES. The purpose of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is to safeguard Floridas public and sup port the agriculture economy (adapted from Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Web site, www.doacs.state.fl.us, 2009). FLORIDA FARM BUREAU. Agricultural organization whose mission is to "to increase the net income of farmers and ranchers, a nd to improve the quali ty of rural life." This organization has approximately 138,000 members and is Floridas largest agricultural organization (adapted fr om Florida Farm Bureau Web site, www.floridafarmbureau.com, 2009). OPINION LEADER. An individual who influences the behaviors or opinions of another person or group (adapted from Rogers, 1962). In this study, opinion leaders were defined as current pa rticipants and alumni of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agricultur e and Natural Resources. PERCEPTION OF ISSUE. One of the three components individuals use to evaluate organizational advocacy messages. The com ponents of the perception of the issue include: is it important to society, is it impor tant to the individual, is there a logical association between the issu e and the organization, what is the intent of the organization (adapted from Haley, 1996)? PERCEPTION OF ORGANIZATION. One of the three compone nts individuals use to evaluate organizational advocacy messages. The components of perception of the organization include: the individual knows them, the individual likes them, and the individual sees the organi zation as like them and congruent to their values. Additionally, the perception of the organization is tied to the individuals perception of the issue in that there needs to be a logical association, and organization should have expert ise (adapted from Haley, 1996). PERCEPTION OF SELF. One of the three components individuals use to evaluate organizational advocacy messages. The com ponents of the perception of self are judged by evaluating the issues importance to society and the individual. Also perception of self is influenced by whether or not the individual believes they can take any action to alter the current state of the issue. Finally, th e perception of self is determined by the individuals percepti on of the organizati on. If the individual likes the organization, knows the organiza tion and feels the organization to be 21

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congruent with their values all influen ce the perception of self (adapted from Haley, 1996). TWO-STEP FLOW MODEL OF COMMUNICATION. A model that asserts communication messages are passed from mass media s ources through opinion leaders to reach individuals in the general public (a dapted from Lazar sfeld et al., 1948). SOURCE. An individual or organization who supplies information (adapted from Merriam-Websters Online Dictionary, 2008) In this study, source was defined as an agricultural organization that distri buted information throughout the state of Florida. SOURCE CREDIBILITY. Source which shows evidence of authenticity, reliability and believability (adapted from Greer, Holinga, Kindel & Netznik, 1999). UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA/INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES. A federal-state-county partnershi p that extends into every community within Florida. UF/IFAS is dedicated to developing knowle dge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences, and enha ncing and sustaining the quality of human life by making that information accessibl e. (adapted from University of Florida/IFAS Web site, www.ifas.ufl.edu, 2009). Chapter Summary The purpose of this study was to address th e lack of understanding about the amount of credibility that Florida agricultural organizations are given by agricultural opinion leaders in reference to receiving information about important issues affecting the industry. The particular objectives included determining the perceived credibility of select ed Florida agricultural sources of information, identifying media sources used by Florida agricultural op inion leaders to learn more about important industry issues, determining perceptions of current issues facing Florida agriculture by opinion leaders, a nd finally determining if source cr edibility has an impact on the information that opinion leaders choose to diffuse. The data collected from this study will be useful in gaining a better understanding of whic h organizations are trusted the most by Florida agricultural leaders, as well as which factors aid in the diffusion of information by agricultural opinion leaders. 22

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CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE The purpose of this study was to examine th e perceived source credibility of Florida agricultural organizations as vi ewed by Florida agricultural opin ion leaders.. The objectives of the study were to 1) determine the amount of information that Florida agri culture opinion leaders receive from selected Florida agriculture organi zations, 2) determine the perceptions of source credibility of selected organi zations in Florida agriculture utilized by opinion leaders, 3) determine the factors that influence whether an opinion leader will dissem inate an organizational message to the general public, and 4) describe the relationship between source credibility and opinion leaders decision to distri bute information to the public. This chapter reviews the relevant literature and research relatin g to persuading public opinion, opinion leadership, and source credibil ity. The literature revi ew begins with a comprehensive overview of the theoretical framew ork used to conduct this research and expands into a conceptual framework. By understanding both the theoretical base, as well as the previous research conducted, the gap in the current knowle dge base and the need for new research will become more apparent. Theoretical Framework This study focused on the perceived credibil ity of selected Florida agricultural organizations as viewed by state opinion leaders. Th erefore, in order for this study to be accurate and the research deemed valid, a full review of the literature surrounding th e theoretical concepts must be completed. The foundational theoretical principles in this study were narrowed down to include source credibility theory and the two-step flow model of communication. 23

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Source Credibility Source credibility is a foundati onal element on which this stu dy was built as the studys goal was to measure the trustworthiness of agri culture organizations. Berlo, Lemert, and Mertz (1970) stated, An individuals acceptance of inform ation and ideas is based in part on who said it (p. 563). Source credibility is important in mass communication b ecause it aids in the validation of the message being communicated. On e of the first and most significant studies evaluating source credibility was conducted by Hovland, Janis, and Kelley (1953). The researchers examined qualities that could alter a communicators credibi lity, including how well the source communicates and the communicators membership in a particular social status group, as well as attitudes towards the communicator. Th e researchers decided each of the external qualities related to communicator credibility co uld be summed up into two succinct features. Therefore, they posited that source credibility is the degree of trustworthiness combined with the degree expertness perceived by the message receiver. Later, OKeefe (1990) defined credibility as, Credibility (or, more carefully expressed, p erceived credibility) refers to the judgments made by a perceiver (e.g. a message recipi ent) concerning the believability of a communicator. Communicator credibility is thus not an intr insic property of a communicator; a message source may be thought highly credible by one perceiver and not at all credible by another (p. 131). Another definition used by Erdem and Swait (200 4) revealed source cr edibility to be the believability of an entitys intentions at a part icular time (p. 192). This definition also includes the specific factors of trustworthiness and expertise, first described by Hovland, et al. (1953) in understanding the broader concep t of source credibility. Understanding the definition and various constr ucts of source credibility is essential because Sternthal, Phillips, and Dholakia (1978) a sserted there is a prevalent belief that sources perceived as being highly credible will extract greater advocacy support than sources perceived 24

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as having low credibility. In other words, a source perceived to be credible will have more of an impact on the message recipients. Berlo et al. (1970) continued to investigate the work of H ovland et al. (1953) that evaluated the dimensions of the acceptability of me ssage sources. Berlo et al. were interested in narrowing down and more specifically defining th e terms trustworthiness and expertise that previous researchers claimed were essential to source credibility. Therefore, their study searched for specific criteria used by message receivers to assess the source of the message. Berlo et al. evaluated the criteria used by message receiv ers because they claimed the term source credibility and all simila r terms tend to suggest that the vari able is the property of the source rather than a receivers response to a source (p. 565). Berlo et al. (1970) cited thr ee qualities that messa ge receivers use when evaluating the source of the message: safety, qualification, and dynamism. Safety was described as similar to Hovland et al.s (1953) trustwor thiness concept and wa s explained as the general association between the communicator and the receiver. The term qualification seemed to align itself with Hovland et al.s expertise concept. Qualifica tion in the study is particularly based on the communicators perceived general intelligence or ability in a topic-free situation (p. 575). Further, dynamism was a term used in this study that was absent from Hovland et al.s work. Berlo et al. described this quality as an inten sifier, meaning that depending on the receivers perception of the communicators safety and qualification, the manner in which communicators use energy to express and execute their ideas play s an important role in the evaluation of the communicator. However, previous studies (Hovland, Jani s, & Kelley, 1953; Berlo, Lemert, & Mertz,1970) have not determined which factor--trustworthin ess or expertise-was the more prevalent in 25

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persuading others. Rather, these studies have described a mix of the two elements as creating communicator credibility. Lui a nd Standing (1989) narrowed the defi nition of source credibility by independently measuring the degree of trustw orthiness and expertise to determine which factor has the greatest persuasive impact. Lui and Standing (1989) used thre e types of sources in their st udy: a trustworthy source, an expert source, and a neutral source. The resear chers sampled 36 Catholic nuns about a message stimuli related to the transmission of the AIDS virus. The nuns listened to three tape recordings of information relating to the spre ad of the AIDS virus. The nuns were told that one recording was done by a priest (trustworthy source); one recording was done by a doctor specializing in AIDS research (expert source); and one record ing was done by an anonymous citizen (neutral source). Their findings suggest that study participants were more convinced by the priest (trustworthy source). The doctor specializing in AIDS research (expert source) was rated on the same level as the neutral source. However, this current study is unique in measuring source credibility because the sources in this study were not individuals but rather organizations. Currently, very little research has been done on organizational and corporate firms as sources of information (Newell & Goldsmith, 2001). Newell and Goldsmith (2001) defined corporat e credibility, in part, as the extent to which consumers feel that the firm has the know ledgeto fulfill its claims and whether the firm can be trusted to tell the truth or not (p. 235). Similar to Newell and Goldsmiths (2001) study, this study is focused on the perceived expertise and trustworthiness of the firm itself rather than that of the spokesperson (p. 235). Furthermore, Haley (1996) conducted a me ta-analysis of the literature surrounding organizational credibility. The results of th is meta-analysis confirmed that nonprofit and 26

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government sources are perceived to be more cr edible than commercial sponsors (p. 23). Additionally, Haley (1996) noted m essages received from a business with a vested interest in the public issue were rated significantly more be lievable and credible th an messages sponsored by a business without an apparent vested interest in the issue (p. 23). Two-Step Flow Model of Communication Historically, opinion leaders have been recognized as an impor tant link in the diffusion of messages to the general public. Lazarsfeld, Be relson, and Gaudet (1948) conceptualized the diffusion of messages in a two-st ep flow model of communication. This model first highlighted opinion leaders as an important step in the diffusion of communi cation messages. The two-step flow model also asserts that information fr om the mass media is funneled down to opinion leaders who then pass the information along to individuals within th e public (Weiman, 1982). Other studies (Troldahl, 1966 ;Weiman, 1982) have elaborated the original two-step flow model to include other steps in the dissemination of information, but the importance of opinion leaders and interpersonal influence ha ve continued to remain an important part in linking mass communication to the public. In Lazarsfeld et al.s (1948) original m odel, opinion leaders were the essential link between the mass media and th e general public. In mass co mmunication distribution, opinion leaders can serve as important interpersonal co ntacts for individuals making decisions about information in the mass media. Trodahl (1966) refute d the original two-step flow model asserting there is a one-step flow of co mmunication, direct from mass me dia to members of the social system (p. 611). Trodahl (1966) continued to challenge the two-step flow model of communication by establishing the point that the propos ed idea that opinion leaders initiate the second step of communication flow appears inconsistent with th e fact that opinion leaders are characterized as individuals who are asked for advice (Trodahl, 1966). 27

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However, Beckman (1967) disagreed with this one-step approach when he suggested that personal influence is much more prevalent in communicating messages than the mass media. Beckman (1967) noted an important aspect th at has been continually reinforcedis that interpersonal relationships betw een opinion leaders and others in the primary group influence decisions (p. 37). Robinsons (1976) study conc urred by reporting that wh en individuals must make a decision between the media and a personal source of information, the personal source exerts more influence on the message receiver than does the media. Robinson (1976) defined opinion le aders as individuals who are different from the general public either because of social pos ition or status or by virtue of th eir greater interest in the topic at hand (p. 307). Other studies have examined the personal char acteristics of opinion leaders (Burt, 1999; Chan & Misra, 1990; Rogers & Cart ano, 1962). One opinion leader characteristic uncovered by Chan and Misra (1990) is individua tion. Researchers defined individuation as a type of personality state causing individuals to differentiate from others and act in a separate manner than the majority of the group (Masl ach, Stapp & Santee, 1985 as cited by Chan & Misra, 1990). The authors claim that one can be come individuated by evaluating the others in a particular situation and determining the various ways in which he or she could differ from them (p. 54). Chan and Misra (1990) we nt on to infer a possible correl ation between an individuals ability to differentiate themselves with the su ccess of the individual in disseminating messages. The act of disseminating information thr ough word-of-mouth communication make opinion leaders stand out among their group, makes them different than the other members (p. 54). Leonard-Barton (1985) examined the effect th at opinion leaders have in the diffusion of innovations. Specifically, this study was concerned with whet her opinion leaders could successfully block new innovations. One of the fi ndings in this study supported the hypothesis 28

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that individuals within the general public tend to rate new innovations more positively when opinion leaders have also rated the innovation positively. More recently, others have cri ticized the idea of the two-st ep flow hypothesis and the role of opinion leaders. Underwood (2003) noted all opinion leaders do not have general characteristics, but rather have specific qualiti es that aid them in leading opinions in more precise situations. For example, an opinion leader in the automotive industry has different skills and abilities from an opinion leader in the ch ildcare industry. Each of these opinion leaders possesses qualities, both unique to them and to their specific i ndustry, that allow them to be successful opinion leaders (Underwood, 2003). Moreover, all individuals cannot be classified as either opinion leaders or followers, accordi ng to Underwood (2003); so me individuals might quite simply detach from much media output (p. 2). Severin and Tankard (2001) also raised c oncerns about the twostep flow model of communication. One of the problems they noted with this model is that it only contains two steps. They argued that the process of diffusi ng information may have more or less steps, depending on the issue at hand. Secondly, Severin and Tankard (2001) stated the two-step flow model implies mass media sources are the only sources of informati on that opinion leaders utilize. Opinion Leaders The concept of opinion leaders was first developed by Lazarsfeld, Berelson, and Gaudet (1948) in their pioneering twostep flow model of communication. Since then, many other researchers have conducted experiments in an effort to better understand the qualities an opinion leader possesses, the amount of social capital held by opinion leaders, and the impact opinion leaders can have on the diffusi on of innovations (Corey, 1971; Burt, 1999; Valente & Davis, 1999). 29

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Defining Opinion Leadership Corey (1971) noted opinion leaders are tru sted and informed people who exist in virtually all groups [of people] ( p. 48). Rogers (2003) defined th e concept of opinion leadership as the degree to which an individual is able to influence other individua ls attitudes or overt behavior informally in a desired way with relati ve frequency (p. 27). In another description of opinion leaders, Rogers and Cart ano (1962) characterized opini on leaders as individuals who exemplify the values of their followers (p. 437). Additionally, opinion leaders have been described as individuals who, th rough personal interaction, are able to make ideas or innovations infectious to those with whom they come in contact (Burt, 1999). Opinion Leader Characteristics Corey (1971) conducted a study with the expl icit purpose of identifying the common, overarching characteristics of opi nion leaders. The researcher composed four hypotheses related to opinion leadership, and then tested the hypotheses using thr ee different experiments. The hypotheses examined included 1) opinion leaders w ill be more involved in activities relating to their specialty areas; 2) opinion leaders will be more informed about new developments in their specialty areas; opinion leaders will read more media related to their specialty area; and 3) opinion leaders will have simila r demographic characteristics as non-leaders with the exception of having a higher socio-economic status. Core ys (1971) three experi ments included selfreported qualities by individuals involved in the automotive i ndustry, grocery products industry, and the food preparation industry. Upon completion of the experiments, the experimenter found that opinion leaders were more involved in activit ies relating to their specialty area, were more informed about new developments, and read more media pertaining to thei r specialty areas than did non-leaders; thus, confirming two of the three hypotheses. Howe ver, the third hypothesis was only partially confirmed. In th is case, there were no significa nt differences between opinion 30

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leaders and non-leaders in the areas of age, e ducation, or marital status. Corey (1971) admitted that a small but significant difference in educ ation had been expected between leaders and nonleaders; however, this was not the case (p. 51) The only two significant differences between opinion leaders and non-leaders pertained to their level of income and occupation. Additionally, Rogers (2003) summarized uni que features of opinion leaders based on previous empirical studies. The followi nggeneralizations summarize empirical studies designed to answer how do opi nion leaders differ from their followers? (Rogers, 2003, p. 316). The first distinction noted by Rogers (2003) was that opinion leaders tend to be exposed to more external media or communication effort s. Opinion leaders gain their perceived competency by serving as the link between new id eas and an established social system (Rogers, 2003, p. 317). The second distinction was that opinion leaders tend to have a higher socioeconomic status than non-lead ers. Invention can start from the lowest ranks of the people, but its extension depends upon the existence of so me lofty social elevation (Tarde, 1903, p. 221 as cited by Rogers, 2003). The third distinction mentioned was that opinion leaders are more innovative than their followers. However, the opi nion leaders system norms could alter the level of innovativeness portrayed by the leader, as th e level of innovativeness can depend largely on the opinion leaders followers (Rogers, 2003). Agricultural Opinion Leaders Ludwig (1994) conducted a study that divide d metropolitan leader s from agricultural leaders in an effort to discover discrepancies re garding their attitudes to wards global issues. The studys sample of 385 respondents consisted of (25%) county agricultural leaders; 185 (48%) metropolitan leaders and 104 (27%) Ohio agriculture leaders (p. 8). Their attitudes were measured across four dimensions which include d 1) third world development and poverty, 2) international trade, 3) sensitivity to other cultures, and 4) Extension involvement in global 31

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education. Upon data analysis, Ludwig found that overall metropolitan leaders were found to have the most positive attitude towards the f our dimensions studied. Additionally, county agriculture leaders were found to be significantly more negative th an metropolitan leaders in all of the four dimensions studied. Moreover, both ag riculture leaders at th e county and state level were less positive about Extension involvement in global education efforts. While this is only one study, it does serve to draw attention to the fact that agri cultural opinion leaders are unique in that they do have differing opinions than me tropolitan leaders. While it cannot be definitely ascertained as to what causes these attitudina l differences, one could hypothesize that due to unique experiences, agricultural op inion leaders differ significantly in their perceptions of global issues. Opinion Leader Social Capital Adler and Kwon (2002) defined social capital as the goodwill that is engendered by the fabric of social relations andcan be mobilized to facilitate acti on (p. 17). Scheufele and Shah (2000) conducted an experiment to describe corre lations between social capital and personality strength. Opinion leaders, like individuals with personality strength, ar e thought to shape their fellow citizens reactions to social issues (Scheufele & Shah, 2000, p. 109). The authors described personality strength as a feature of individuals, a reflection of their confidence in leadership roles, their aptitude at shaping ot hers opinions, and their self-perceived impact on social and political outcomes ( p. 109). In particular, the resear chers explored how individuals maintain social capital through their civic engage ment, life satisfaction an d interpersonal trust. The authors also looked for the contributions of major demographic variables (age, income, education, gender) in sustaining an individuals social capital. Additionally, Scheufele and Shah (2000) examined a relati onship between personality strength and opinion leadership as they relate to social capital. One of their most prominent 32

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findings was that personality strength does play a role in promoting social capital, as opposed to only variables such as social economic status or political interest. This research further suggested it may be important to identify indi viduals with personality strength and direct resources towards them (Scheufele & Shah, 2000, p. 125). Burt (1999) also guided rese arch in the area of social cap ital and opinion leaders. He conducted a meta-analysis of previous empirical research that assessed how opinion leaders are involved in the process of diffusion of ideas and adoption of ideas through social groups. Burt asserted the social capital ex planation is that people who do be tter are better connected (p. 48). The author revealed opinion leaders are not so much leaders of opinion as they are brokers of opinions. The typical opinion leader or broker uses social networ king to diffuse ideas through a specific group. He noted, Opini on leaders are brokers in the se nse that their influence is between, rather than within groups.(p. 46). Further, Burt (1999) explored the con cepts of contagion a nd cohesion and their relationship to opinion leaders. C ontagion is a concept related to contagious where one person is able to make an idea or behavior contagious to another person while cohesion is defined as the strength of the rela tionship between two people. The artic le further explained the network structure of social capital and how it relates to opinion leaders. The author claimed that there are structural holes in social capit al and that opinion leaders are ab le to span those holes, having more social interaction with a wide variety of people, giving the opinion leaders a competitive edge with social capital. Burt (1999) reported: The opinion leadersnow identified as network entrepreneurs rich in social capital monitor information more effectively than bureaucratic control does. They move information faster, and to more people than do memos. They are highly relative to bureaucracy, easily shifting network time and en ergy from one solution to another (p. 50). 33

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Opinion Leaders Interpersonal Relationships Opinion leaders often have a very unique and influential positi on in their systems communication structure: they are at the cen ter of interpersonal communication networks (Rogers, 2003, p. 27). Beckman (1967) investigated the use of interperso nal relationships. He questioned whether messages from the mass me dia really reach their intended audience. Beckman (1967) did not complete any new research, but rather compiled previous studies in order to form more contemporary research hypo theses. Beckmans general assumption regarding the new hypotheses was that personal influence is much more prevalent in communicating messages than the mass media: Several studies have shown that nearly all persons are exposed di rectly to some mass communications, and in fact are at least aw are of the issues or product through the mass media. The important aspect that has been continually reinfor ced, however, is that interpersonal relationships between opinion leaders and ot hers in the primary group influenced decisions (p. 37). In an effort to expand further on the importan ce of interpersonal relationships in changing public opinion, Beckman further stated, The greater ones contact with others, the greater is ones potential for influencing and being influenced (p. 37). Similarly, as a result of Valente, Poppe, and Merrits (1996) study of opinion leadership and interpersonal communication, more knowledge was gained about the relationship between these two constructs. The results of this study indicated that the amount of credible information available on a specific topic affects the amount of interpersonal communication about the topic. The authors described interpersonal communicati on as the giving and seeking of information, and when credible information about a topic is extensive, then the need for the giving and seeking information from others is reduced (Valen te, et al., 1996). However, when there is not a surplus of credible information available to peop le the higher the level of misinformation, fears, 34

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and doubts about an innovation, th e greater the associated in terpersonal co mmunication and opportunities for opinion leadership (Valente, et al., 1996, p. 261-262). Opinion Leaders and the Diffusion of Innovations Valente and Davis (1999) discussed the possi bility of accelerating the diffusion of innovation by utilizing opinion leaders. The authors created a peer promotion model to demonstrate how opinion leaders can be a valuab le link in disseminating information by way of diffusion of innovation. This model assumed that so me individuals will act as role models for others. These role models act as opinion leader s within their communities and can be important determinants of rapid and sust ained behavior change (p. 57). Valente and Davis (1999) proclaimed that in order for the opinion lead ers to accurately diffuse an innovation into a community, they must be viewed as credible by the community citizens. The degree of influence wielded by an opinion lead er is predicated in part on the potential adopters' assessment of his or her credibility and trustworthiness (p. 57). No t only is utilizing a credible source important for sufficient diffusion of innovations to occur, but also opinion leaders must buy-in to the innovation they are diffusing as well as be willing to be active participants in the diffusion process (p. 63). Finally, the auth ors stated that opinion leaders ma y be resistant to participating in diffusing innovations because th ey could possibly see it a disr uption to their daily lives. Sources of Agricultural News Ruth (2005) conducted a study of Florida agricultureal communicati on professionals who represented institution, corporat e, and government entities. Th e purpose of this study was to determine the contribution of agricultural commun ication professionals to the overall agricultural news coverage process by the news media. The results of this study indicated that the agricultural industry was not very effective in its current use of the mass media in telling the story of agriculture (Ruth, 2005, p. 111). One possi ble reason for this ineffective use of mass 35

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media is because most agriculture communicat ors tend to look within the industry for information as opposed to external news media sources (Ruth, 2005). Ruth (2005) noted the agriculture industry tends to talks to itself, meaning communicating to agricultural media and audiences and i gnoring the consumer media and non-agricultural publics (p. 111). One of the par ticipants in Ruths (2005) stu dy explained the possible reasons the news media is not uti lized more by agriculture: Ag media work tends to stick exclusively to ag trade media, farm broadcasters, etc. Two main reasons-clients want to use (sometimes limited) resources to target specific ag audiences. Secondly, there is the fear that consumer media may not understand some of the information or challenge the informati on beyond the scope of ag industry. (p.112) However, despite the finding that agricult ural communicators te nd to communicate more with industry-specific p ublications, the study participants suggested that trade media are diminishing and slowly becoming obsolete, maki ng the consumer media the solitary mass media communication choice (p. 140). One study particip ant stated, There is not much farmer friendly media out there anymore (p. 114). Ruth and Lundy (2004) examined the media ch annels utilized by Florida opinion leaders in order to access agricultural information. This study encompassed 525 opinion leaders from across the state of Florida who represented influentials from four major fields: education, politics/government, business/commerce, and media/communication indus tries (p. 11). The opinion leaders in this study extended beyond the scope of the ag riculture industry. The results from this study indicated that opinion leader s would prefer to receive their agricultural information in the same manner as they receiv e other sources of major information (Ruth & Lundy, 2004). The media channels in which opinion leaders desired to receive agricultural information and news included newspaper, government communication, radio, and personal contacts. Because the researcher s expected the newspaper to be a major source of information, 36

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questions were asked in order to pinpoint the mo st influential newspaper sections as deemed by opinion leaders. The front-page news al ong with state/local news, world news and business/finance news were the most influential sections that opinion leaders accessed for their information (Ruth & Lundy, 2004, p. 10). Factors Influencing Source Credibility Page, Shapiro, and Dempseys (1987) study aided in accurately understanding the phenomenon behind why individuals give credence to some individuals or associations and not others. Page et al. noted news from different sources tends to have effects of different magnitudes and sometimes different directions on individuals (p. 31). Th e researchers identified five features a source must possess in order to effectively modify public opinion: 1) the information is actually received; 2) the info rmation is understood by th e recipients; 3) the information is obviously relevant to evaluating a particular legisl ative policy; 4) the information is discrepant with the receivers past beliefs; and 5) the information is credible (Page et al., 1987). In addition to these five features, Page et al. (1987) examined various mediums, ranging from television to U.S. presidents, to determ ine which medium tended to influence public opinion the greatest. After evaluating 80 pairs of policy questions during a 15-year time span, Page et al. (1987) identified 10 major sources fr om which individuals receive information about public policy. They discovered for whatever [ind ividuals] do learn about politics, most people rely heavily upon the cheapest and most accessi ble sources: newspapers, radio, and television, especially network TV news (Page et al., 1987, p. 23). Moreover, Page et al. (1987) measured trustw orthiness as it relates to public influence. One way that they directly measured trustwor thiness was by examining the popularity of U.S. presidents. They assumed that the more popular th e president, the more trust and confidence the public would have in his decisions. The authors claimed that news commentators, experts, and 37

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popular presidents have in common a high level of credibility, which [is believed to be] crucial to their influence on the public (p. 39). However, they discovered that television news has the greatest influence on public opinion (Page et al., 1987). Attitudes Towards the Communicator One of the elements to be considered within source credibility is the receivers attitude towards the communicator. The receivers attitude may play an important role in determining if the message from the communicator is actually received and processed correctly. Kelman and Eagly (1965) helped to pinpoint a condition that could cause a positive or negative shift in public opinion: the receivers attitude towards the communicator. These researchers conducted two different experiments to measure the perceptions of co mmunicator content. This study aimed to precisely discover conditions that cause attitudes toward the communicator to affect the perception of the communicators content. The first experiment examined the tendency of participants to misperceive the message of a negative commentator because the message went against the participants position on the issue. In this experiment, the negative speaker was judged consistently lower in trustworthiness, expertness general attractiveness and representativeness (p. 66). Speci fically, the researchers noted: In the case of a negative communicator, misperce ption of his message is likely to reduce even further his persuasive impact: the furt her the listener displaces the communicators position from his own, the more likely he is to dismiss the communication as irrelevant and outside of his range of acceptance. Moreover, such misperception of a negative communicators message will limit the occurren ce of a change of attitude toward the communicator himself (p. 64). This experiment revealed that subjects tended to drastically misinterpr et the message of the negative communicator. In the second experiment of the Kelman and Eagly (1965) study, the communicators took basically the same position on an issue, but addr essed the position from different angles, or 38

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themes. Again, the message of the positive communicator was more likely to be accepted by the subjects. The overall results of th is study indicated to the research ers that there is a direct relationship between stre ngth of positive feeling and amount of displacement toward ones own position (p. 70). Also, researchers found the te ndency to perceive communication content in line with ones attitude toward the communicator is most likely to come into play when the communicator arouses strong feelings (p. 73). Source Credibility and Cognitive Dissonance In order to account for a possible explanation of why message receivers tend to dismiss the message of a negative communicator, it is importa nt to revisit a prior study by Aronson, Turner, and Carlsmith (1963). This study examined cognitive dissonance as it correlates to attitudes towards communicators. The authors argued th at depending on the level of dissonance experienced by an individual, the individual will t ypically either change an opinion so that it aligns more with the credible communicator or the individual will derogate the communicator. Credibility seems to be cruc ial; if a communicator has perfec t credibility, he cannot be derogated by definition (p. 32). In such cas es where the communicator exhibits perfect credibility, dissonance can be reduced only by an opinion change of the message recipients. Moreover, Frewer, Howard, and Shepherd (1998) added that new eviden ce about an issue may be noted if it fits with an indi viduals preconceptions about that issue but contrary evidence may be dismissed as unreliable or unrepresentative, or it may be interpreted from the perspective of existing beliefs (p. 17). Aronson et al. (1963) aimed to discover the c onditions that cause individuals to either change their opinion or derogate the communicator in an effort to reduce dissonance. In order to test their hypotheses, subjects were exposed to a persua sive communication piece that was identical for all groups except for the credibility of the communicator. The sample included 112 39

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female college students who evaluated virtually identical poems with the exception of the authors name. T.S. Elliott was chosen as the hi ghly credible author and an English student enrolled in a teachers college was select ed as the mildly credible author. The researchers made certain that the original opinions of the subjects fell at the same level in order that the opinion change may be measur ed. Finally, the opinions of the subjects were measured along with the amount of derogation of the communicator. The study discovered that the highly credible source (T.S Elliott) was more successful in creating an opinion change. Moreover, Manis (1961) performed a somewhat similar study looking at the reception of opinion statements based on the message recipient attitude and the source s prestige. This study was conducted by using a series of opinion statements in two different contexts. The first context was presented in a manner that suggested the s ource of the information were people with low prestige. The second context was information presented in a manne r that suggested the source of information had high prestige. The authors e xpected the information presented by the low prestige sources to have little influence potential on the subjects and for the information presented by the high prestige sources to have considerable in fluence potential. The subjects in Manis (1965) study were 65 unde rgraduate male student s at the University of Michigan. The topic was colle ge fraternities, so the resear cher ensured the study contained subjects extremely pro-fraternit y, relatively neutral, and extremel y anti-fraternity. Interestingly enough, under the low prestige condition, none of th e responses from the three groups varied significantly from each other. But with the hi gh prestige sources, individuals who were profraternity tended to assume that the high prestige sources were mo re likely to be pro-fraternity than the low prestige sources and vice versa with the anti-fraternity subjects. Manis pointed out: 40

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The overall results of this study can be summarized succinctly: When the experimental messages were presented as coming from high pr estige sources, subjects tended to displace the communicators toward the end of the scal e that they themselves favored; when these same messages were presented as coming from low prestige sources, there was no consistent relationship between subjects attitu des and their interpretations of the messages (p. 84). Manis (1965) also noted it is in teresting to contrast these re sults with studies where the recipients are given no information about the message source. When the source is anonymous, the author says that the subject is either to misinterpret the message in order to magnify the differences in opinion or to interpret the message in a way that fits the subjects attitude. Attitude Toward the Message Issue An additional factor that should be consider ed when assessing source credibility is the message receivers initial attitude toward the message. Frewer, Howard, and Shepherd (1998) conducted a study to determine the ro le prior attitudes play in d etermining individual responses to incoming information (p. 16). Specifically, th e researchers were investigating the application of prior attitudes toward the issue of genetic engineering in food production. The researchers surveyed 260 individuals with multiple surveys. First, the individuals were sent a questionnaire measuring their initial attitudes about genetic engineering in food production (accept/reject). Second, the participants were se nt informational statements th at were assessed as being persuasive towards the acceptance of geneti c engineering (p. 19). Finally, a second questionnaire was sent to the individuals to measure their attitude about genetic engineering in food production after reading the informational statements. Based on the results of the study, Frewer, et al., (1998) discovered that prior attitude toward an issue does play a role in how a message is viewed and accepted. Respondents who had more initial positive attit udes toward genetic engineerin g in food production rated the information as more accurate, factual and info rmative, and as being less biased (p. 20). 41

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Additionally, the informations source was rated as more knowledgeable and trustworthy when the individual had an initial positive attitude of the issue. Likewise, the attribution of the source made no difference in the individuals acceptan ce of the information when the individual possessed a prior positive at titude on genetic engin eering in food production, However, the research also determined that when the information included the admission of some uncertainty, then those individuals wi th prior negative attitudes tended to rate the information as being more informative. More over, Respondents who [had] a more negative view about genetic engineering in food production are also likely to perceive information about the technology as less accurate and informative, and more biased than those who hold more positive views (p. 25). Therefore, the results of this study indicated that initial attitude to genetic engineering appears to be the most infl uential determinant of attitudes after information provision (p. 24). Chapter Summary Chapter 2 provided the theoretical and conceptu al framework for the study. The theory of source credibility and the two-step flow model of communica tion supported the theoretical framework. The researcher included an appropriate literature review in each of the following topic areas: opinion leadership, so urces of agriculture news, and factors that affect source credibility. Each of th ese concepts is important in understanding the phenomenon behind why opinion leaders give credence to some agricultura l organizations and not others. Additionally, a conceptual model was presented that visually expl ains how the pieces within this literature fit together. 42

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CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Chapter 1 described the importan ce of the agriculture industry to the state of Florida as well as the significance of credible agricultural information reaching the individuals that depend on the industry for their liveli hood. In addition, the first chap ter provided the background for studying the lack of understanding about the cred ibility of agricultural industry organizations. Chapter 1 further explained the significance of the study and identified its purpose. The chapter concluded by defining key terms and stating th e assumptions and limitations of the study. Chapter 2 presented an overview of the theoretical foundations and the conceptual framework in which this study was built. The spec ific areas that Chapter 2 discussed included opinion leaders, sources of agri cultural news, and factors that influence source credibility. Overall, the chapter 2 literature did not reveal any previous studies that measured the credibility of agricultural organizations, thus furthe r establishing the need for this study. Chapter 3 describes the methodology utilized in order to answer the re search questions in which the study was founded. Additionally, this chapter addresses th e research design, population, instrument design, and data collection. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the perceived source credibility of select ed Florida agricultural or ganizations as viewed by Florida agricultural opinion leaders. Research Design The research design was a quantitative study th at utilized descriptive census survey methodology. Ary, Jacobs, Razavieh, and Sorensen ( 2006) explained a census survey as one that measures the entire population of interest (p. 402). In this study, the entire population of interest consisted of alumni me mbers of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources (WLIANR). More specifically, th is study can be classified as a census survey 43

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of intangibles. The term intangible refers to constructs such as attitudes, values, opinions and other personal characteristics that are often difficult to measure (Ary, Jacobs, Razavieh, & Sorensen, 2006). This survey label is appropriate for this study because respondents were asked about their perceptions and opinions, of agricultural organizational credibility. However, it is important to note, The value of a census of intangibles is larg ely a question of the extent to which the instruments used actually measure the constructs of interest (Ary, Jacobs, Razavieh, & Sorenson, 2006, p. 403). Population The population for this study included Florid a agricultural opini on leaders who were alumni of the WLIANR. The number of particip ants from the WLIANR who were eligible to participate in this study equaled 163. The WLIANR alumni members were selected to participate in this study because as a form er participant in the WLIANR, they are rec ognized as leaders in the Florida agriculture industry. Additionally, these individuals re present a cross-section of the commodity industries within the state giving the study a broader perspective. However, it was important in this study to account for non-respon ders because not all 163 eligible respondents will actually participated in th is study. Accounting for non-responde rs was particularly important in this study because the participants were not randomly selected, thus allowing the potential for nonresponders to bias the data results (Ary et al., 2006). The non-response error was accounted for by comparing the early to th e late responders. Ary et al. (2 006) asserted that non-respondents are often similar to late respondents; mean ing that by examining the responses of nonresponders, the researcher should be able to estimate the response s of late respondents. Ary, et al. (2006) claimed: 44

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If no significant differences appear between early and late respondents, and late respondents are believed to be typical of non-respondents, then [it] can be assum[ed] the respondents are an unbiased sample of the recipients and can t hus generalize to the total group (p. 439). Using a researcher-developed demographic inst rument, the independent variables of age, gender, education level, income, and organi zational membership(s), were collected. Upon receiving the results from the questionnaire, da ta analysis occurred in order to accurately interpret the findings. Since the study described correlations, the Pearson ( r2) correlation was used in order to measure the strength and magnitude of the relationships between the organizations credibility scores and the likelihood that opinion leaders will pass down the organizations information to others. Procedure The first step in this studys procedure was to secure approval from the University of Florida Institutional Review Board for nonmedical projects (IRB02). The proposal was approved (Protocol # U-676-2008) allowing for the studys course of action to proceed (Appendix A). Following IRB-02 approval, but prior to the collection of data from the WLIANR alumni members, a pilot test was conducted. Th e pilot study included 29 current participants in the WLIANR. Upon receiving the data of the p ilot study, the researcher conducted a Cronbachs alpha test and determined the reliability of the credibility construct to be a coefficient of 0.94. According to the literature, an alpha coefficien t of 0.70 has shown to be an acceptable reliability coefficient (Nunnaly, 1978, as cited by Santos, 1999). Once the pilot data were collected, the panel of experts reviewed the data again. Following the second review by the panel of experts and in conjunction with participant feedback, the researcher modi fied the instrument to more accurately assess the population. The instrument was expanded to include specific questions 45

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relating to factors that impact me ssage dissemination, as well as a series of personality questions. Once the survey revision was complete d, a second pilot test was conducted. The second pilot test was sent electronically to 10 current WLIANR participants. The response rate for this second pilot test was 80%. In order to test the re liability of the newly added survey instrument questions, a Cronbachs alpha test was conducted. The results from this test showed that the reliabili ty of the section measuring factors that impact message dissemination was an alpha coefficient of 0.98. Mo reover, Cronbachs alpha measured reliability of the personality section at a coefficient of 0.86. After conducting the pilot tests, contact in formation for WLIANR alumni members was obtained using an alumni database. In order to gather data from the sampling frame, a Web survey was utilized. Dillman (2007) suggested that Web surveys offered a great deal of potential for very little cost. Moreover, Dillmans Ta ilored Design Method s uggests distributing the survey through a system of five contacts (Dillman, 2007). These five contacts include a brief prenotice letter, a questionnaire, a thank-you postcard, a replacement questionnaire, and a final contact (Dillman, 2007). A personalized e-mail letter was sent to each alumni member on October 13, 2008 (Appendix B). The purpose of the letter was to p rovide a positive and timely notice that the recipient [would] be receiving request to he lp with an important study (Dillman, 2007, p. 156). The second contact was made on October 15, 2008. During the second contact, the Web-based surveys were sent to the partic ipants via electronic mail. After sending out the second contact, it was noted that 31 of the study pa rticipants had either invalid e-mail addresses or no e-mail address listed in the data base. Therefore, a mailout packet th at included a cover letter, informed consent form, and survey was created and ma iled to these individua ls on October 17, 2008. 46

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On October 22, 2008, a third contact was made and included a thank you to those who completed the survey and a reminder for those individuals who had not completed the survey instrument to do so as soon as possible. Th e fourth contact was made on October 29, 2008 and was sent to only those indivi duals who had not yet complete d the survey. As suggested by Dillman (2007), this electronic letter had a tone of insistence that the previous contacts [lacked] (p. 181). This contact was intended to reinforce the message to respondents that their responses were important to the success of the survey (p. 181). Instrumentation The researcher found no existing instrument that measured the source credibility of agricultural organizations; therefore, the resear cher created the instru ment (Appendix C). After consulting with a panel of experts, the following organizations were selected to be a part of this study: Florida Department of Agriculture a nd Consumer Services, Florida Farm Bureau Federation, University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, all state-wide agricultural organizations as a whole, and one specific orga nization selected by the study respondent. The first part of the questi onnaire required the respondents to answer questions regarding how much of their information they receive from the Florida Departme nt of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Farm Bureau Federa tion, University of Florida/IFAS, and all other statewide agricultural orga nizations, as well as the organizati on in which they are most involved. The questionnaire then allowed for the respondents to write in the organiza tion in which they are most involved. Then the respondents assessed their percei ved credibility of that organization by responding to 11 unique constructs that measured the trustworthiness and the expertise of each organization. Thirdly, each of these five organi zations were independen tly assessed regarding 47

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their credibility utilizing the constructs of trus tworthiness and expertise. The third part of the questionnaire questioned respondents regarding 26 factors that could potentially affect whether a message from an organization woul d be distributed via opinion l eaders. Finally, questions were asked regarding personality factors about each opinion leader. Following the questionnaire, demographic data was collected from the respondents. To ensure that the instrument measured the construct appropria tely, validity and reliability were two issues the researcher addressed. Ary et al. (2006) described validity as the most important consideration in developing and evaluating measuring instruments (p. 243). Additionally, previous research ha s suggested that there are two categories of validity: internal validity and external validity (Campbell & Stanley, 1963 as cited by Ary, et al., 2006). Ary et al. (2006) described internal validity as determining whether the changes that occur in the dependent variable are a direct result of a manipulation of the inde pendent variable and not by any other variable. In particul ar, eight extraneous variables ha ve been identified that could pose a threat to the inte rnal validity of the st udy and overall research de sign. The eight variables are: history, maturation, testing, instrumentation, statistical re gression, differential selection, mortality and the interaction of all of these threats (Campbell & Stanley, 1966). Since the studys instrument was researcher-developed, the greatest thre at to internal validity was instrumentation. The internal threats of histor y, maturation, testing, and mortality were controlled through the selection of a census that repr esented all WLIANR alumni memb ers and surveyed each of them only one time. Further, the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing list[ed] three categories of evidence that can be used to establish the validity of score-based interpretations: evidence based on content, evidence based on relations to a criterion, and construct-related 48

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evidence of validity (Ary, et al ., 2006, p. 244). In order to furthe r examine the validity of the instrument, a panel of experts an alyzed the instrument to ensure all four categories of validity were satisfied. These experts cons isted of faculty members at the University of Florida located within the Department of Agricult ural Education and Communication. Content validity was described as the degree to which the data from an instrument are representative of some defined domain (Ary, et al., 2006). In this study, content validity threats were controlled through the expert panels carefu l examination of the instrument prior to the surveys distribution. The sec ond threat, criterion validity, refe rred to determining whether or not the answers to the instruments questions would correctly meas ure the construct (Ary, et al., 2006). To ensure that this validity flaw would not negatively impact the survey, the panel of experts, was consulted as well as the literature reviewed, for em pirical evidence of ensuring the criterion-related validity of the instrument. C onstruct validity was the extent to which the instrument reflected the theory behind the cons truct being measured (Ary, et al., 2006). Due to the fact that a construct is based upon the meas urability of a complex factor, it is difficult to establish complete validity of the construct. However, one way to combat this threat to validity is to utilize related measure studies. These are previous studies that have previously measured the construct in question and can in crease the validity of the inst rument (Ary, et al., 2006). Data Analysis Data were analyzed using th e Statistical Packag e for the Social Sciences (SPSS) 16.0 for Windows. Intially data were analyzed using desc riptive statistics. Following the examination of the descriptive statistics, inferential statistics we re then computed to gain a better understanding of the overall data set. The first forms of analysis conducted on the data set were means and frequencies. Additionally, a one-w ay analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used in order to assess the relationships between the independent and dependent variables. ANOVAs were utilized in 49

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this study because they, and thei r associated procedures, allow the observed variance to be partitioned into components due to the different explanatory variables (Agresti & Finlay, 1997). Additionally, a Pearson Product Mo ment Correlation was used in order to measure possible associations among the dependent variables as we ll as the strength and relationship between the variables (Agresti & Finlay, 1997). Nonresponse error should be considered and ad dressed in survey-based research studies because the potential for nonresponse error exists within all types of su rvey research (Dillman, 2000). Based on Dillmans (2006) recommendation to always address nonresponse error, a comparison of early to late respondents was utilized. Lindne r, Murphy, and Briers (2001) recommended the researcher define late respondents operationally and ar bitrarily as the later 50% of respondents (p. 242). This study defined the early respondents (n= 46) as the first 50% who responded to the survey and late respondent s (n=46) were defined as the latter 50% who responded to the survey. Early respondents were compared to late respondents on the basis of the key variables of interest, as well as demographic data. At the conclusion of the data collecti on procedures, 94 (57.7%) of the graduates responded. This response rate was acceptable be cause Kittleson (1997, as cited by Cook, Heath and Thompson, 2000 ) stated one can expect be tween a 25 and 30% response rate from an email survey when no follow-up takes place. Follow-up reminders will approximately double the response rate for e-mail surveys (p. 196, as cited by Cook, Heath and Thompson, 2000). Addtionally, Strickland (2008) us ed the WLIANR alumni as a sampling frame and received a 42% response rate. Therefore, a 57.7% response rate was deemed to be acceptable based on the literature and the prior re sponse rate trends from the sampling frame. 50

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Summary This chapter described the methods used to st udy the research objectives that were outlined in Chapter 1. Specifically, Chapter 3 discu ssed the studys research design, population, procedures, instrumentation and data analysis. Th is studys research design was a quantitative study that utilized descriptive census survey methodology. The independent variables consisted of age, gender, education leve l, income, and organizational membership(s). The dependent variable was the perceived credib ility of the agricultural organi zations represented within the study. Moreover, the issues related to the studys reliability and validity were discussed. Finally, a summary and description of the pilot study were provided in this chapter. 51

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CHAPTER 4 RESULTS Chapter 1 described the significance of cred ible agricultural information reaching the individuals who depend on the Florida agricu lture industry to suppor t their livelihoods. Additionally, the first chapter provided the background for studying the lack of understanding about the credibility of agricu ltural industry organizations. Chapter 1 identified the following objectives to aid in gu iding the study: 1) determine the am ount of information that Florida agriculture opinion leaders receive from selected Florida agriculture orga nizations, 2) determine the perceptions of source credibil ity of selected organizations in Florida agriculture utilized by opinion leaders, 3) determine th e factors that influence whether an opinion leader will disseminate an organizational message to the ge neral public, and 4) describe the relationship between source credibility and opinion leaders decision to distribute information to the public. Further, Chapter 1 explained the importance of the study and identified its purpose. The chapter concluded by defining key terms and stating th e assumptions and limitations of the study. Chapter 2 presented an overview of the theoretical foundations and the conceptual framework in which this study was built. The spec ific areas chapter 2 discussed included opinion leaders, and sources of agricultural news and fact ors, which influence source credibility. Overall, the chapter 2 literature did not reveal any previo us studies that measured the credibility of agricultural organizations, thus further establishing the need for this study. Chapter 3 described the methodology utilized in order to answer the re search questions in which the study was founded. Moreover, this ch apter addressed the research design, population, instrument design, and data collection procedures. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the perceived source credibility of Fl orida agricultural organi zations as viewed by Florida agricultural opinion leaders. 52

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This chapter presents the findings of the study beginning with a description of the population as well as the findings of each of the objectives. The popul ation of this study consisted of 163 Wedgworth Leadership Institute al umni. At the conclusion of the data collection procedures, outlined in chapter 3, 94 (57.7%) of the graduates responded. Demographics The WLIANR alumni were analyzed by the foll owing demographics: age, gender, education level, leadership position held, length of leader ship position, and race. The demographics were collected using the resear cher-developed questionnaire instru ment. Results can be found in Table 4-1. Gender & Age Of the respondents, 64.9% ( n=61) were male, 21.3% ( n=20) were female, and 13.8% ( n=13) did not respond. In the age category 7.4% ( n=7) reported being 25-35 years old; 26.6% ( n= 25) reported being 36 -45 years old; 40.4% ( n = 38) reported being 46-55 years old; and, 12.8% ( n= 12) reported being 55 years old or older. Education In regard to the responden ts educational background, 3.2% ( n=3) described their highest level of education to be high school graduate or GE D recipient; 8.5% ( n=8) had some college but did not receive a degree; 1.1% ( n=1) indicated their high est level of education was an associates degree; 53.2% ( n= 50) received a bachelors degree; and, 21.3% ( n=20) received a graduate level or professional degree. Leadership Position Additionally, 76.6% ( n=71) of the respondents reported to have held a leadership position in the agriculture industry. Of the 71 respondents who reported having held a leadership position, 14.1% ( n=10) served in that posit ion for 1-2 years; 8.5% ( n =6) served in a leadership position for 53

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2-3 years; 11.3% ( n=8) served in a leadership position for 3-4 years; 9.9% ( n=7) served in a leadership position for 4-5 years: and, 56.3% ( n =40) served in a leadersh ip position for 5-6 years. Table 4-1. Frequencies and Percen tages of Demographic Information f P Total Answered Gender Male Female Age 25-35 36-45 46-55 55 or older Education Level 9th-12th grade, no diploma High school graduate/GED Some college, no degree Associate degree Bachelor degree Graduate or prof essional degree Held Leadership Position Yes No Length of Time Position Held Less than a year 1-2 years 2-3 years 3-4 years 4-5 years 5-6 years 61 20 7 25 38 12 0 3 8 1 50 20 72 11 0 10 6 8 7 40 64.9% 21.3% 7.4% 26.6% 40.4% 12.8% 0.0% 3.2% 8.5% 1.1% 53.2% 21.3% 76.6% 11.7% 0.0% 14.1% 8.5% 11.3% 9.9% 56.3% 81 (86.2%) 82 (87.2%) 82 (87.2%) 83 (88.3%) 71 (75.5%) Objective 1 Objective: To determine the amount of informat ion that Florida agriculture opinion leaders receive from selected Fl orida agriculture organizations The Florida agriculture organizations select ed for this objective included: The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Serv ices (FDACS), Florida Farm Bureau Federation 54

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(FFBF), The University of Florida/ Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), the collective of the other state agricultural organiza tions and finally, the or ganization in which the respondent was most involved. This objective, determining fr om which organizations opinion leaders received information, had a range possibility of one to five. Of the five organizational categories, the organization in which the res pondent was most involved has the highest mean score ( M = 4.18, SD =0.977) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services received the lowest score ( M= 2.62, SD = 0.986). These scores are presented in Table 4-2. Table 4-2. Opinion Leaders Information Recepti on from State Agricultural Organizations Mean Scores M SD Min Max Organization Most Involved UF/IFAS Other State Orgs FFB FDACS 4.18 3.67 3.22 3.01 2.62 0.977 0.968 1.212 1.282 0.986 1 1 1 1 1 5 5 5 5 5 The survey respondents were asked to provide th e name of the organization in which they are most involved. Table 4-3 lists the names of the or ganizations that were not listed previously in the study. There were a total of 56 responses consisting of 16 organi zations not previously listed in the survey. Table 4-3. List and Frequencie s of Organizations that Responde nts are Most Involved (n=56) f P Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association Florida Nurserymen and Growers Association Florida Cattlemens Association Florida Citrus Mutual Florida Forestry Association Farm Credit Services Florida Sod Growers Cooperation Florida Tomato Exchange Gulf Citrus Growers Association Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association Florida Strawberry Growers Association Florida Watermelon Association Indian River Citrus League Farm Service Agency Florida Citrus Packers 11 10 7 6 4 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 19.6% 17.8% 12.5% 10.7% 7.1% 3.5% 3.5% 3.5% 3.5% 3.5% 1.7% 1.7% 1.7% 1.7% 1.7% 55

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After the mean scores from the organizations were calculated, ANOVAs were computed to measure the relationships between the amount of information received by organizations and the demographics of the respondents. Significant relationships existed between the amount of information respondents received from the Florid a Farm Bureau Federation and their level of education (F= 2.515, p=<.05) as well as the length of time the respondents had held a leadership position(F= 9.847, p=<.05). Another significant relationship existed between the organization that the respondents were most involved in and whether they held a l eadership position. These scores are presented in Table 4-4 and 4-5. Table 4-4. One-Way Analysis of Variance Sign ificant Relationships between Florida Farm Bureau Information Reception and Demographics Demographic df F Sig. Education Level Length of Leadership Position Between Within Between Within 4 77 4 66 2.515 3.145 0.05 0.05 Table 4-5. One-Way Analysis of Variance Signif icant Relationships between Organization Most Involved by Respondent and Demographics Demographic df F Sig. Leadership Position Previously Held Between Within 1 73 9.847 0.05 Objective 2 Objective: To determine the perceptions of source credibility of selected organizations in Florida agriculture utili zed by opinion leaders. In order to assess the percep tions of source credibility of the selected organizations, 11 individual constructs were inde pendently measured in order to obtain a credibility index for each organization. The constructs measured includ ed: dependability, honesty, reliability, sincerity, trustworthiness, balanced, expertness, experienced, knowledgeable, qualified, and skilled. Each 56

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of these individual constructs had a range possibility between one and five. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Servic es construct that rece ived the highest mean score was honest (M=3.93, SD=0.934) The construct that received the lowest mean score for this organization was balanced (M=3.42, SD=0.939). Table 4-6. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Credibility Construct Means (n=78) M SD Min Max Honest Sincere Dependable Trustworthy Knowledgeable Reliable Experienced Skilled Qualified Expert Balanced 3.93 3.80 3.78 3.77 3.72 3.68 3.65 3.63 3.61 3.49 3.42 0.934 1.024 0.842 0.972 0.933 0.992 0.943 0.910 0.921 1.021 0.939 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 The construct that received the highest mean score rating for the Florida Farm Bureau Federation was honest ( M= 4.13, SD= 0.872). The construct that recei ved the lowest mean score rating was balanced ( M= 3.49, SD= 1.048). (See Table 4-7). Table 4-7. Florida Farm Bureau Federation Credibility Construct Means (n=80) M SD Min Max Honest Sincere Reliable Trustworthy Dependable Knowledgeable Qualified Experienced Skilled Expert Balanced 4.13 4.10 4.07 4.05 4.01 3.96 3.96 3.94 3.94 3.66 3.49 0.872 0.860 0.813 0.947 0.809 1.024 0.955 0.953 1.108 0.979 1.048 2 2 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 57

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The construct that received the highest m ean score rating for the University of Florida/IFAS was knowledgeable ( M= 4.41, SD= 0.695). The construct that received the lowest mean score rating was balanced ( M= 3.69, SD= 0.994). (See Table 4-8). Table 4-8. University of Florida/ IF AS Credibility Construct Means (n=83) M SD Min Max Knowledgeable Qualified Expert Skilled Experienced Honest Dependable Trustworthy Sincere Reliable Balanced 4.41 4.33 4.31 4.31 4.20 4.09 4.01 4.00 3.99 3.96 3.69 0.695 0.734 0.802 0.728 0.870 0.826 0.852 0.836 0.885 0.851 0.994 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 The construct that received the highest mean score rating for the organization in which the respondent was most i nvolved was trustworthy ( M= 4.41, SD= 0.899). The construct that received the lowest mean score rating was balanced ( M= 3.85, SD= 0.927). (See Table 4-9). Table 4-9. Organization in which the Respondent is Most Involved Credibility Construct Means (n=78) M SD Min Max Trustworthy Honest Sincere Dependable Reliable Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled Expert Balanced 4.41 4.39 4.39 4.35 4.34 4.34 4.30 4.27 4.27 4.09 3.85 0.899 0.791 0.775 0.699 0.799 0.846 0.837 0.812 0.902 0.936 0.927 1 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 58

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The construct that received the highest mean score rating for all other state agriculture organizations was sincere ( M= 3.72, SD= 0.894). The construct that received the lowest mean score rating was balanced ( M= 3.25, SD= 0.807). (See Table 4-10). Table 4-10. Other State Or ganizations Credibility Construct Means (n=74) M SD Min Max Sincere Honest Trustworthy Dependable Reliable Knowledgeable Experienced Qualified Skilled Expert Balanced 3.72 3.65 3.60 3.57 3.57 3.55 3.53 3.51 3.48 3.39 3.25 0.894 0.878 0.915 0.841 0.841 0.953 0.935 0.921 0.964 0.928 0.807 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 2 2 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 Once the 11 individual constructs were m easured for each organization, a credibility index was created for each of the organizations in order to secure a credibility mean for each organization (Table 4-11). The credibility inde x was created by calculating the combined mean scores for the 11 credibility constructs. The or ganization that received the highest credibility index score was the organization that the respondent was most involved ( M= 4.27, SD =0.732). The organization receiving the lowest credibility index score was the collective all other state organizations not listed in the survey ( M= 3.50, SD= 0.852) Table 4-11. Credibility Index of Organizations n M SD Min Max OrgMostInvolved UF/IFAS FFBF FDACS OtherOrgs 4.27 4.12 3.94 3.68 3.50 0.732 0.657 0.815 0.802 0.852 1.55 2.09 2.00 1.36 2.00 5 5 5 5 5 59

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Once the overall means were established for each organization, the construct means were analyzed by demographics. These mean scores al lowed for the differences in demographics to become evident. The demographic means measured included: gender, age, education level, held leadership position, and length of ti me leadership position was held. In regard to the Florida Department of Ag riculture and Consumer Services, the male respondents rated the co nstruct of honest ( M=3.92, SD=0.934) as the highest and the construct of expert ( M= 3.37, SD=0.963 ) as the lowest. Females rated the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Serv ices construct of expert ( M= 4.11, SD= 0.937) as the highest and the construct of balanced ( M= 3.58, SD= 0.961) as the lowest. (See Table 4-12). Table 4-12. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Serv ices Credibility Construct Means by Gender (n=78) Construct Male Female M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 3.73 3.92 3.68 3.81 3.76 3.41 3.37 3.59 3.68 3.59 3.57 0.848 0.934 0.973 1.025 1.023 0.912 0.963 0.873 0.899 0.833 0.819 4.00 4.05 3.89 4.00 3.89 3.58 4.11 4.05 4.05 3.94 4.05 0.882 0.911 0.994 1.000 0.809 0.961 0.937 1.026 0.911 0.966 0.970 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. In regard to the demographic of age, the group of respondents clas sified as 25-35 years old ranked the Florida Department of Agricu lture and Consumer Se rvices construct of knowledgeable ( M= 4.00, SD= 0.000) as the highest and the lowest constructs included dependable (M= 3.20, SD= 1.095), reliable ( M= 3.20, SD= 1.095), trustworthy ( M= 3.20, SD= 1.095), and skilled ( M= 3.20, SD= 0.837). In the age category of 36-45, the construct with the highest mean was sincere ( M= 3.84, SD= 1.106) and the construct with the lowest mean was 60

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balanced ( M= 3.28, SD= 1.061). Within the age category of 46-55 years old, the construct receiving the highest mean score was honest ( M= 4.05, SD= 0.815), and the lowest mean score was balanced ( M= 3.43, SD= 0.929). Lastly, in the age category labeled as 55 or older, the constructs receiving the highest mean scores were honest ( M= 4.17, SD= 0.835) and sincere ( M= 4.17, SD= 0.937), and the construct receiving the lowest mean score was qualified ( M= 3.58, SD= 0.669). (See Table 4-13). Table 4-13. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Se rvices Credibility Construct Means by Age (n=79) Construct 25-35 36-45 46-55 55 or older M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 3.20 3.40 3.20 3.40 3.20 3.40 3.80 3.40 4.00 3.40 3.20 1.095 1.342 1.095 1.342 1.095 0.894 0.837 0.894 0.000 0.894 0.837 3.72 3.72 3.60 3.84 3.68 3.28 3.48 3.68 3.60 3.60 3.56 1.021 1.061 1.118 1.106 1.145 1.061 1.122 0.852 1.000 1.000 0.961 3.86 4.05 3.81 3.78 3.84 3.43 3.46 3.68 3.76 3.71 3.70 0.751 0.815 0.938 0.976 0.898 0.929 1.016 1.056 1.011 0.957 0.968 3.92 4.17 3.83 4.17 4.00 3.67 3.75 3.83 3.92 3.58 3.91 0.669 0.835 0.835 0.937 0.853 0.888 0.866 0.835 0.669 0.669 0.701 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. In the education level demographic, respondent s who classified themselves as high school graduates/GED recipients rated the Florida Depa rtment of Agriculture and Consumer Services constructs dependable ( M= 4.00, SD= 1.000) and sincere (M= 4.00, SD= 1.000) as the highest and the construct of balanced ( M= 3.00, SD= 1.000) as the lowest. Respondents falling into the some college, no degree category rated the constructs of dependable ( M= 4.12, SD= 0.835) and reliable ( M= 4.12, SD= 1.126) with the highest mean scores and the construct of experienced ( M= 3.50, SD= 1.414) with the lowest mean score. In the as sociates degree category, the constructs of honest ( M= 4.00, SD= 0.000) and trustworthy ( M= 4.00, SD= 0.000) were rated with the highest mean scores and the constructs of balanced ( M= 2.00, SD= 0.000), expert ( M= 2.00, SD= 0.000), 61

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experienced (M= 2.00, SD= 0.000), knowledgeable ( M= 2.00, SD= 0.000), and skilled ( M= 2.00, SD= 0.000) were all rated lower. In the category of bachelor degree, the construct receiving the highest mean score was honest ( M= 3.81, SD= 1.024) and the construct receiving the lowest mean score was balanced ( M= 3.38, SD= 0.981). In the final education level, labeled graduate/professional degree, th e constructs with the highest mean scores were honest ( M= 4.21, SD= 0.173) and sincere ( M= 4.21, SD= 0.855) and the construct with th e lowest mean scores were balanced ( M= 3.53, SD= 0.697) and expert ( M= 3.53, SD= 0.772). (See Table 4-14). Table 4-14. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Se rvices Credibility Construct Means by Education Level (n=79) High School Grad/GED Some College, No Degree Associate Degree Bachelor Degree Graduate, Professional Degree Construct M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 4.00 3.67 3.67 4.00 3.33 3.00 3.67 3.67 3.67 3.67 3.67 1.000 0.577 0.577 1.000 0.577 1.000 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 4.12 4.00 4.12 3.88 4.00 3.62 3.62 3.50 3.87 3.62 3.62 0.835 1.069 1.126 1.126 1.069 1.302 1.302 1.414 1.246 1.506 1.408 3.00 4.00 3.00 3.00 4.00 2.00 2.00 2.00 2.00 3.00 2.00 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 3.65 3.81 3.50 3.67 3.65 3.38 3.54 3.69 3.71 3.54 3.60 0.911 1.024 0.989 1.078 1.021 0.981 1.071 0.949 0.967 0.912 0.917 4.00 4.21 4.05 4.21 4.05 3.53 3.53 3.79 3.84 3.84 3.83 0.667 0.173 0.911 0.855 0.911 0.697 0.772 0.713 0.688 0.688 0.707 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients Individuals who had held a leadership pos ition in the agriculture industry rated the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services construct honest ( M= 3.97, SD= 0.916) as the highest mean score and the construct balanced ( M= 3.44, SD= 0.958) as the lowest mean score. Individuals who had not held a leadership position in the agriculture industry rated the constructs sincere ( M= 3.80, SD= 1.229) and knowledgeable ( M= 3.80, SD= 1.033) with the highest mean scores and the constructs reliable (M= 3.20, SD= 1.033) and balanced ( M= 3.20, SD= 0.919) with the lowest mean scores. (See Table 4-15). 62

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Table 4-15. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Se rvices Credibility Construct Means by Leadership Position (n=80) Yes No Construct M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 3.80 3.97 3.77 3.83 3.81 3.44 3.54 3.69 3.73 3.63 3.67 0.809 0.916 0.966 1.007 0.967 0.958 0.988 0.925 0.916 0.879 0.902 3.70 3.60 3.20 3.80 3.50 3.20 3.40 3.60 3.80 3.60 3.50 1.160 1.075 1.033 1.229 1.080 0.919 1.174 1.075 1.033 1.174 1.080 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. Of the respondents who had held a previous leadership position in the agriculture industry, individuals who held the position fo r 1-2 years rated the construct qualified ( M= 4.30, SD= 0.675) with the highest mean score in regard to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Individuals who held leadership positions for 2-3 years gave the highest mean score to the construct sincere ( M= 4.33, SD= 0.816) and the lowest mean score to the construct knowledgeable ( M= 3.50, SD= 1.049). Individuals who had served in leadership positions for 3-4 years gave the highest mean score to the construct trustworthy ( M= 3.86, SD= 1.574) and the lowest mean scor e to the construct expert ( M= 3.00, SD= 1.414). Those respondents who served in a leadership positio n for 4-5 years rated the constructs honest ( M= 4.33, SD= 0.816) and sincere ( M= 4.33, SD= 0.816) with the highest mean scores and the constructs of reliable ( M= 3.50, SD= 1.049), balanced ( M= 3.50, SD= 0.548), expert ( M= 3.50, SD= 1.225), and qualified ( M= 3.50, SD= 0.837) with the lowest mean sc ores. In the last category of 5-6 years, respondents identi fied the construct honest ( M= 3.95, SD= 0.904) as having the highest mean score and the construct balanced (M= 3.38, SD= 0.979) as having the lowest mean score. (See Table 4-16). 63

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Table 4-16. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Se rvices Credibility Construct Means by Length of Leadership Position (n=69) 1-2 years 2-3 years 3-4 years 4-5 years 5-6 years Construct M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 4.00 4.00 3.90 3.90 3.90 3.60 4.10 4.00 4.20 4.30 4.20 0.667 0.816 0.994 1.197 0.876 1.075 0.876 0.943 0.789 0.675 0.789 4.00 4.17 4.00 4.33 4.00 3.67 3.83 3.83 3.50 3.67 3.67 0.894 0.753 0.632 0.816 0.632 0.516 1.169 0.753 1.049 0.516 0.516 3.29 3.71 3.71 3.57 3.86 3.43 3.00 3.29 3.43 3.29 3.43 1.113 1.380 1.380 1.397 1.574 1.397 1.414 1.254 1.397 1.254 1.134 3.83 4.33 3.50 4.33 3.83 3.50 3.50 3.83 3.67 3.50 3.67 0.983 0.816 1.049 0.816 1.169 0.548 1.225 0.983 0.816 0.837 1.033 3.80 3.95 3.78 3.75 3.80 3.38 3.48 3.62 3.70 3.55 3.59 0.758 0.904 0.947 0.899 0.883 0.979 0.847 0.897 0.853 0.860 0.910 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. In regard to the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, the male respondents rated the construct of sincere ( M= 4.22, SD=0.773) as the highest and the construct of balanced ( M= 3.53 SD= 1.080 ) as the lowest. Females rated the Florida Farm Bureau Federations constructs of honest ( M= 4.21, SD= 0.918), experienced ( M= 4.21, SD= 0.855), and skilled ( M= 4.21, SD= 0.918) as the highest and the construct of balanced ( M= 3.63, SD= 1.116) as the lowest. (See Table 4-17). Table 4-17. Florida Farm Bureau Federation Credibility Construct Means by Gender (n=77) Construct Male Female M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 4.05 4.17 4.16 4.22 4.16 3.53 3.64 3.97 4.02 4.00 3.91 0.759 0.775 0.768 0.773 0.894 1.080 1.003 0.898 1.000 0.937 0.942 4.11 4.21 4.05 3.95 4.00 3.63 3.95 4.21 4.11 4.05 4.21 0.875 0.918 0.848 0.970 0.970 1.116 1.026 0.855 0.994 0.970 0.918 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. 64

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In regard to the demographic of age, the group of respondents clas sified as 25-35 years old ranked the Florida Farm Bureau Fe derations constructs of reliable ( M= 4.33, SD= 0.516), sincere ( M= 4.33, SD= 0.516), and experienced ( M= 4.33, SD= 0.516) as the highest and the lowest constructs included: balanced ( M= 3.67, SD= 1.033), expert ( M= 3.67, SD= 1.033). In the age category of 36-45, the construct w ith the highest mean was honest ( M= 4.12, SD= 0.833) and the construct with the lowest mean was balanced ( M= 3.60, SD= 1.000). Within the age category of 46-55 years old, the construct receivi ng the highest mean score was honest ( M= 4.17, SD= 0.811) and the lowest mean score was balanced (M= 3.44, SD= 1.132). Lastly, in the age category labeled as 55 or older, the construc ts receiving the highest mean scores were dependable (M= 4.27, SD= 1.009), honest ( M= 4.27, SD= 1.009), reliable ( M= 4.27, SD= 1.009), and trustworthy ( M= 4.27, SD= 1.009) and the construct receivi ng the lowest mean score was expert ( M= 3.64, SD= 1.027). (See Table 4-18). Table 4-18. Florida Farm Bureau Federation Credibility Construct Means by Age (n=78) Construct 25-35 36-45 46-55 55 or older M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 4.17 4.00 4.33 4.33 3.83 3.67 3.67 4.33 4.00 4.17 4.00 0.753 0.894 0.516 0.516 1.472 1.211 1.033 0.516 0.894 0.753 0.894 4.08 4.12 4.08 4.08 4.08 3.60 3.68 3.92 4.00 3.92 3.84 0.759 0.833 0.702 0.862 0.862 1.000 1.180 0.997 1.041 1.038 1.028 3.94 4.17 4.06 4.14 4.09 3.44 3.69 4.06 4.06 4.00 4.03 0.754 0.811 0.826 0.867 0.887 1.132 1.009 0.955 1.068 0.986 0.941 4.27 4.27 4.27 4.09 4.27 3.73 3.64 3.73 3.91 4.00 4.00 1.009 1.009 1.009 1.044 1.009 1.104 1.027 1.009 0.944 0.894 1.000 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. In the education level demographic, respondent s who classified themselves as high school graduates/GED recipients rated the Florid a Farm Bureau constructs of honest ( M= 4.00, SD= 1.000), reliable ( M= 4.00, SD= 1.000), and sincere ( M= 4.00, SD= 1.000) as the highest and 65

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all other constructs as (M= 3.67, SD= 1.528) with the exception of the construct dependable ( M= 3.67, SD= 0.577) as the lowest. Respondents falling into the some college, no degree category rated the constructs of dependable ( M= 4.25, SD= 0.886), honest ( M= 4.25, SD= 1.165), reliable (M= 4.25, SD= 0.886), sincere (M= 4.25, SD= 1.165), trustworthy ( M= 4.25, SD= 1.165), balanced ( M= 4.25, SD= 0.886), knowledgeable ( M= 4.25, SD= 1.389) and skilled ( M= 4.25, SD= 1.165) as all having the same highest m ean scores and the construct expert ( M= 3.75, SD= 1.581) with the lowest mean score. In the asso ciates degree category, the constructs of dependable (M= 3.00, SD= 0.000), honest ( M= 3.00, SD= 0.000), sincere ( M= 3.00, SD= 0.000), experienced (M= 3.00, SD= 0.000), knowledgeable ( M= 3.00, SD= 0.000), qualified ( M= 3.00, SD= 0.000) and skilled ( M= 3.00, SD= 0.000) were all rated with the same exact highest mean scores and the remaining constructs were all rated with the lowest means having scores of ( M= 2.00, SD= 0.000). In the category of bachelor degr ee, the construct r eceiving the highest mean score was honest ( M= 4.22, SD= 0.0743) and the construct receiving the lowest mean score Table 4-19. Florida Farm Bureau Federation Cr edibility Construct Means by Education Level (n=78) High School Grad/GED Some College, No Degree Associate Degree Bachelor Degree Graduate, Professional Degree Construct M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 3.67 4.00 4.00 4.00 3.67 3.67 3.67 3.67 3.67 3.67 3.67 0.577 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.528 1.528 1.528 1.528 1.528 1.528 1.528 4.25 4.25 4.25 4.25 4.25 4.25 3.75 3.88 4.25 4.12 4.25 0.886 1.165 0.886 1.165 1.165 0.886 1.581 1.642 1.389 1.356 1.165 3.00 3.00 2.00 3.00 2.00 2.00 2.00 3.00 3.00 3.00 3.00 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 4.10 4.22 4.14 4.18 4.14 3.53 3.82 4.10 4.04 4.08 4.02 0.743 0.743 0.707 0.782 0.842 1.023 0.905 0.743 0.912 0.886 0.829 3.94 4.06 4.12 4.00 4.06 3.35 3.41 3.88 3.88 3.76 3.76 0.899 0.966 0.857 0.935 0.929 1.169 1.064 0.993 1.111 0.903 1.147 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. 66

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was balanced ( M= 3.53, SD= 1.023). In the final education leve l, labeled graduate/professional degree, the construct with the highe st mean scores was reliable ( M= 4.12, SD= 0.857) and the construct with the lowest mean score was balanced ( M= 3.35, SD= 1.169). (See Table 4-19). Individuals who had held a leadership position in the agriculture industry rated the Florida Farm Bureau Federa tions construct honest ( M= 4.17, SD= 0.822) as the highest mean score and the construct balanced ( M= 3.57, SD= 1.050) as the lowest mean score. Individuals who had not held a leadership positi on in the agriculture industry ra ted the construct knowledgeable ( M= 4.40, SD= 0.699) with the highest mean scor e and the construct balanced ( M= 3.40, SD= 0.699) with the lowest mean score. (See Table 4-20). Table 4-20. Florida Farm Bureau Federation Credibility Construct Means by Leadership Position (n=79) Yes No Construct M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 4.06 4.17 4.12 4.13 4.07 3.57 3.68 3.97 3.94 3.97 3.93 0.765 0.822 0.777 0.739 0.935 1.050 1.064 0.954 1.042 0.954 0.990 4.00 4.10 4.10 4.10 4.20 3.40 3.70 4.10 4.40 4.10 4.20 0.943 0.994 0.876 0.994 0.919 1.265 0.949 0.876 0.699 0.994 0.632 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. Of the respondents who had held a previous leadership position in the agriculture industry, individuals who held the position for 1-2 years rated the constructs dependable ( M= 4.40, SD= 0.966), reliable ( M= 4.40, SD= 0.966), sincere (M= 4.40, SD= 0.966), trustworthy ( M= 4.40, SD= 0.966), knowledgeable ( M= 4.40, SD= 0.966) with the highest mean scores in regard to the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. In dividuals who held leader ship positions for 2-3 years gave the highest mean scores to the constructs dependable ( M= 4.17, SD= 0.983) and 67

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honest ( M= 4.17, SD= 0.983) while balanced ( M= 3.33, SD= 1.033) received the lowest mean. Individuals who had served in lead ership positions for 3-4 years ga ve the highest mean scores to the constructs honest ( M= 3.86, SD= 0.900), reliable ( M= 3.86, SD= 0.690), sincere ( M= 3.86, SD= 0.690), and qualified ( M= 3.86, SD= 1.345); and the lowest mean score to the construct balanced ( M= 2.86, SD= 1.069). Those respondents who served in a leadership position for 4-5 years rated the construct reliable ( M= 4.50, SD= 0.548) with the highest mean score and the construct balanced ( M= 3.50, SD= 1.643) with the lowest mean score. In the last category of 5-6 years, respondents identified the construct honest ( M= 4.18, SD= 0.790) as having the highest mean score and the construct expert ( M= 3.62, SD= 1.016) as having the lowest mean score. (See Table 4-21). Table 4-21. Florida Farm Bureau Federati on Credibility Construct Means by Length of Leadership Position (n=68) 1-2 years 2-3 years 3-4 years 4-5 years 5-6 years Construct M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 4.40 4.30 4.40 4.40 4.40 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.40 4.30 4.30 0.966 0.949 0.966 0.966 0.966 1.054 1.054 1.054 0.966 0.949 1.059 4.17 4.17 4.00 4.00 3.83 3.33 3.83 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 0.983 0.983 0.894 0.894 0.983 1.033 1.169 0.894 0.894 0.894 0.894 3.71 3.86 3.86 3.86 3.71 2.86 3.29 3.57 3.57 3.86 3.57 0.756 0.900 0.690 0.690 0.488 1.069 1.380 1.134 1.512 1.345 1.272 4.17 4.33 4.50 4.33 4.33 3.50 3.83 4.33 4.17 4.00 4.00 0.753 0.816 0.548 0.816 0.816 1.643 1.169 0.516 0.753 0.894 0.894 4.00 4.18 4.05 4.10 4.05 3.64 3.62 3.97 3.85 3.90 3.87 0.688 0.790 0.759 0.852 1.012 0.932 1.016 0.986 1.040 0.940 0.978 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. In regard to the University of Florida/IFAS the male respondents rated the construct of knowledgeable ( M= 4.38 SD=0.715) as the highest and th e construct balanced ( M= 3.58, SD= 1.046 ) as the lowest. Females rated the Universi ty of Florida/IFAS construct skilled 68

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( M= 4.70, SD= 0.571) as the highest and th e construct of sincere ( M= 4.05, SD= 0.826) as the lowest. (See Table 4-22). Table 4-22. University of Florida Cred ibility Construct Means by Gender (n=80) Construct Male Female M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 3.98 4.10 3.90 4.00 4.02 3.58 4.28 4.12 4.38 4.28 4.25 0.873 0.817 0.838 0.921 0.854 1.046 0.804 0.885 0.715 0.715 0.680 4.20 4.25 4.35 4.05 4.10 4.11 4.55 4.60 4.65 4.65 4.70 0.768 0.786 0.745 0.826 0.788 0.809 0.686 0.681 0.587 0.587 0.571 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. In regard to the demographic of age, the group of respondents clas sified as 25-35 years old ranked the University of Florid a/IFAS constructs of expert ( M= 4.67, SD= 0.816), experienced (M= 4.67, SD= 0.516), qualified ( M= 4.67, SD= 0.516) and skilled ( M= 4.67, SD= 0.516) as the highest and the lowest constructs included: honest ( M= 4.17, SD= 0.713) and trustworthy ( M= 4.17, SD= 0.713). In the age category of 36-45, the construct with the highest mean was knowledgeable ( M= 4.40, SD= 0.707) and the construct with the lowest mean was balanced ( M= 3.44, SD= 1.003). Within the age category of 46-55 years old, the constructs receiving the highest mean score were knowledgeable ( M= 4.45, SD= 0.760) and skilled ( M= 4.45, SD= 0.686) and the lowest mean score was balanced (M= 3.74, SD= 1.057). Lastly, in the age category labeled as 55 or older, the c onstruct receiving the hi ghest mean score was knowledgeable ( M= 4.50, SD= 0.674). and the construct receiving the lowest mean score was reliable (M= 3.75, SD= 0.622). (See Table 4-23). 69

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Table 4-23. University of Florida/IFAS Credibility Construct Means by Age (n=81) Construct 25-35 36-45 46-55 55 or older M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 4.50 4.17 4.50 4.33 4.17 4.20 4.67 4.67 4.33 4.67 4.67 0.548 0.753 0.548 0.816 0.753 0.837 0.816 0.516 0.516 0.516 0.516 3.80 3.96 3.80 3.84 3.88 3.44 4.20 4.00 4.40 4.28 4.20 1.000 0.790 0.866 0.800 0.881 1.003 0.816 1.041 0.707 0.843 0.816 4.13 4.18 4.11 4.03 4.08 3.74 4.34 4.32 4.45 4.37 4.45 0.811 0.896 0.924 1.000 0.912 1.057 0.878 0.873 0.760 0.786 0.686 3.92 4.25 3.75 4.08 4.08 3.92 4.33 4.08 4.50 4.25 4.08 0.669 0.622 0.622 0.793 0.515 0.900 0.651 0.669 0.674 0.452 0.669 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. In the education level demographic, respondent s who classified themselves as high school graduates/GED recipients rated the University of Florida/IFAS c onstructs expert ( M= 4.33, SD= 1.155), experienced ( M= 4.33, SD= 1.155), knowledgeable ( M= 4.33, SD= 1.155), qualified ( M= 4.33, SD= 1.155), and skilled ( M= 4.33, SD= 1.155), as the highest and the construct balanced ( M= 3.67, SD= 0.577) as the lowest. Respondents falling into the some college, no degree category rated the constructs of expert ( M= 4.62, SD= 1.061) and experienced ( M= 4.62, SD= 0.744) as having the highest mean scores and the cons truct reliable ( M= 4.00, SD= 1.195) with the lowest mean score. In the associates degree category, the constructs honest ( M= 4.00, SD= 0.000) and sincere ( M= 4.00, SD= 0.000) were rated as having the highest mean scores and the constructs balanced ( M= 2.00, SD= 0.000) and expert ( M= 4.00, SD= 0.000) were rated with the lowest means. In the category of bachelor degree, the construct receiving the highest mean score was knowledgeable ( M= 4.49, SD= 0.543) and the construct receiving the lowest mean score was balanced ( M= 3.65, SD= 1.021). In the final education level, labeled graduate/professional degree, th e constructs with the highest mean scores were honest ( M= 4.30, 70

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SD= 0.657), knowledgeable ( M= 4.30, SD= 0.923) and qualified ( M= 4.30, SD= 0.865) and the construct with the lowest mean score was balanced ( M= 3.75, SD= 1.070). (See Table 4-24). Table 4-24. University of Florida/IFAS Credib ility Construct Means by Education Level (n=81) High School Grad/GED Some College, No Degree Associate Degree Bachelor Degree Graduate, Professional Degree Construct M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 3.67 4.33 4.33 4.33 4.33 4.33 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 0.577 1.155 1.155 1.155 1.155 1.155 4.25 4.38 4.00 4.12 4.38 4.12 4.62 4.38 4.62 4.50 4.50 0.886 0.744 1.195 0.991 0.744 0.835 1.061 1.061 0.744 1.069 1.069 3.00 4.00 3.00 4.00 3.00 2.00 2.00 3.00 3.00 3.00 3.00 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 4.00 4.00 4.02 3.98 3.92 3.65 4.35 4.29 4.49 4.37 4.41 0.890 0.890 0.803 0.924 0.909 1.021 0.663 0.842 0.545 0.602 0.574 4.00 4.30 3.95 4.00 4.20 3.75 4.25 4.00 4.30 4.30 4.15 0.795 0.657 0.887 0.858 0.616 1.070 0.910 0.918 0.923 0.865 0.813 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. Individuals who had held a leadership pos ition in the agriculture industry rated the University of Florida/IFAS construct knowledgeable ( M= 4.44, SD= 0.710) as the highest mean score and the construct balanced ( M= 3.75, SD= 0.982) as the lowest mean score. Individuals who had not held a leadership position in the agri culture industry rated th e construct skilled ( M= 4.40, SD= 0.699) with the highest mean scor e and the construct balanced ( M= 3.30, SD= 1.160) with the lowest mean score. (See Table 4-25). Table 4-25. University of Florida/IFAS Cred ibility Construct Means by Leadership Position (n=82) Yes No Construct M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert 4.00 4.08 3.94 3.99 4.03 3.75 4.32 0.805 0.801 0.837 0.880 0.822 0.982 0.819 4.10 4.30 4.30 4.10 4.00 3.30 4.30 1.197 0.949 0.949 0.994 0.943 1.160 0.823 Experienced 4.22 0.826 4.10 1.287 71

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Table 4-25. Continued Yes No Construct M SD M SD Knowledgeable 4.44 0.710 4.30 0.675 Qualified 4.35 0.754 4.30 0.675 Skilled 4.32 0.728 4.40 0.699 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. Of the respondents who had held a previous leadership position in the agriculture industry, individuals who held the position fo r 1-2 years rated the constructs expert ( M= 4.80, SD= 0.422) and knowledgeable ( M= 4.80, SD= 0.422) with the highest mean scores in regard to the University of Florida/IFAS and the constructs dependable ( M= 4.30, SD= 0.675), honest ( M= 4.30, SD= 0.483) and sincere ( M= 4.30, SD= 0.675) with the lowest m ean scores. Individuals who held leadership positions for 2-3 years gave th e highest mean scores to the constructs expert ( M= 4.67, SD= 0.516), experienced ( M= 4.67, SD= 0.516), knowledgeable ( M= 4.67, SD= 0.516) and qualified (M= 4.67, SD= 0.516) while the lowest mean scor e to the construct balanced ( M= 3.40, SD= 1.140). Individuals who had served in leader ship positions for 3-4 years gave the highest mean scores to the constructs experienced ( M= 4.25, SD= 0.135), knowledgeable ( M= 4.25, SD= 0.135) and skilled ( M= 4.25, SD= 0.707) and the lowest mean scores to the constructs sincere ( M= 3.50, SD= 1.069) and balanced ( M= 3.50, SD= 1.309). Those respondents who served in a leadership position for 4-5 years rated the construct honest ( M= 4.71, SD= 0.488) with the highest mean score and the construct balanced ( M= 3.86, SD= 0.690) with the lowest mean score. In the last categor y of 5-6 years, resp ondents identified the co nstruct knowledgeable ( M= 4.35, SD= 0.700) as having the highest mean sc ore and the construct balanced (M= 3.70, SD= 0.883) as having the lowest mean score. (See Table 4-26). 72

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Table 4-26. University of Florida/IFAS Credib ility Construct Means by Length of Leadership Position (n=71) 1-2 years 2-3 years 3-4 years 4-5 years 5-6 years Construct M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 4.30 4.30 4.20 4.30 4.40 4.50 4.80 4.50 4.80 4.70 4.60 0.675 0.483 0.789 0.675 0.516 0.527 0.422 0.527 0.422 0.483 0.516 4.17 4.00 4.00 4.17 3.83 3.40 4.67 4.67 4.67 4.67 4.50 0.983 0.894 0.894 0.983 0.753 1.140 0.516 0.516 0.516 0.516 0.548 4.00 3.88 3.75 3.50 3.62 3.50 4.00 4.25 4.25 4.00 4.25 0.756 0.835 1.035 1.069 1.061 1.309 1.069 1.035 1.035 1.069 0.707 4.43 4.71 4.43 4.43 4.57 3.86 4.57 4.14 4.57 4.43 4.14 0.787 0.488 0.535 0.787 0.535 0.690 0.787 0.900 0.787 0.787 0.900 3.88 4.05 3.88 3.97 4.02 3.70 4.18 4.10 4.35 4.27 4.27 0.757 0.714 0.791 0.733 0.698 0.883 0.844 0.871 0.700 0.751 0.784 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. In regard to the organiza tion the respondent was most involved, the male respondents rated the construct of trustworthy ( M= 4.50, SD=0.822) as the highest and the construct balanced ( M= 3.86, SD=0.875 ) as the lowest. Females rate d the construct experienced ( M= 4.56, SD= 0.784) as the highest and the construct of balanced ( M= 4.00, SD= 0.970) as the lowest. (See Table 4-27). Table 4-27. Organization Respondent was Most Involved Credibility Construct Means by Gender (n=76) Construct Male Female M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 4.34 4.45 4.41 4.45 4.50 3.86 4.09 4.36 4.31 4.28 4.26 0.664 0.705 0.726 0.705 0.822 0.875 0.884 0.788 0.777 0.744 0.828 4.50 4.44 4.33 4.39 4.33 4.00 4.33 4.56 4.50 4.44 4.50 0.707 0.856 0.840 0.916 1.029 0.970 0.907 0.784 0.857 0.856 0.857 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. 73

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In regard to the demographic of age, the group of respondents clas sified as 25-35 years old ranked the organization they were mo st involved constructs of dependable ( M= 4.60, SD= 0.548), reliable ( M= 4.60, SD= 0.548), sincere (M= 4.60, SD= 0.548), experienced (M= 4.60, SD= 0.548) and knowledgeable ( M= 4.60, SD= 0.548) as the highest and th e lowest construct was trustworthy ( M= 4.00, SD= 1.732). In the age category of 36-45, the construct with the highest mean was trustworthy ( M= 4.35, SD= 0.832) and the construct with the lowest mean was balanced ( M= 3.57, SD= 1.037). Within the age category of 46-55 years old, the constructs receiving the highest mean scores were honest ( M= 4.46, SD= 0.767), trustworthy ( M= 4.46, SD= 0.869), experienced ( M= 4.46, SD= 0.836), knowledgeable ( M= 4.46, SD= 0.730) and skilled ( M= 4.46, SD= 0.836) and the lowest mean score was balanced (M= 3.92, SD= 0.937). Lastly, in the age category labeled as 55 or older, the constructs receiving the highest mean scores were reliable (M= 4.75, SD= 0.452) and trustworthy ( M= 4.75, SD= 0.452) and the construct receiving the lowest mean score was balanced ( M= 4.17, SD= 0.389). (See Table 4-28). Table 4-28. Organization Respondent was Most Involved Credibility Construct Means by Age (n=77) Construct 25-35 36-45 46-55 55 or older M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 4.60 4.40 4.60 4.60 4.00 4.20 4.40 4.60 4.60 4.40 4.20 0.548 0.894 0.548 0.548 1.732 0.837 0.894 0.548 0.548 0.548 0.837 4.17 4.22 4.13 4.22 4.35 3.57 3.83 4.13 4.00 3.91 3.91 0.778 0.902 0.968 0.902 0.832 1.037 1.114 0.869 1.044 0.996 0.996 4.38 4.46 4.35 4.43 4.46 3.92 4.22 4.46 4.46 4.43 4.46 0.681 0.767 0.753 0.765 0.869 0.937 0.854 0.836 0.730 0.728 0.836 4.58 4.67 4.75 4.67 4.75 4.17 4.25 4.58 4.42 4.50 4.50 0.515 0.492 0.452 0.492 0.452 0.389 0.622 0.515 0.669 0.522 0.522 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. In the education level demographic, respondent s who classified themselves as high school graduates/GED recipients rate d the organization they were most involved in construct 74

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dependable (M= 4.00, SD= 1.000) as the highest and th e construct balanced ( M= 3.00, SD= 1.000) as the lowest. Respondents falling into the some college, no degree category rated the construct trustworthy ( M= 4.50, SD= 0.756) as having the highest mean sc ore and the construct balanced ( M= 4.12, SD= 0.991) with the lowest mean score. In the associates degree category, the constructs dependable ( M= 5.00, SD= 0.000), honest ( M= 5.00, SD= 0.000), expert((M= 5.00, SD= 0.000), experienced ( M= 5.00, SD= 0.000), knowledgeable ( M= 5.00, SD= 0.000) and qualified ( M= 5.00, SD= 0.000) were rated as having the highest mean scores and the construct skilled ( M= 3.00, SD= 0.000) was rated with the lowest mean. In the category of bachelor degree, the constructs receiving the highe st mean scores were honest ( M= 4.48, SD= 0.691), trustworthy ( M= 4.48, SD= 0.888) and experienced ( M= 4.48, SD= 0.722) and the construct receiving the lowest mean score was expert ( M= 4.15, SD= 0.918). In the final educ ation level, labeled graduate/professional degree, th e constructs with the highest mean score was sincere ( M= 4.53, SD= 0.697), and the construct with the lo west mean score was balanced ( M= 3.84, SD= 1.958). (See Table 4-29). Table 4-29. Organization Respondent was Most Involved Credibility Construct Means by Education Level (n=77) High School Grad/GED Some College, No Degree Associate Degree Bachelor Degree Graduate, Professional Degree Construct M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 4.00 3.33 3.67 3.33 3.33 3.00 3.33 3.67 3.67 3.67 3.67 1.000 1.528 1.528 1.528 1.528 1.000 1.528 1.528 1.528 1.528 1.528 4.38 4.37 4.37 4.38 4.50 4.12 4.25 4.37 4.37 4.37 4.37 0.744 1.061 1.061 0.744 0.756 0.991 1.165 0.916 1.061 1.061 1.061 5.00 5.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 5.00 5.00 5.00 5.00 3.00 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 4.41 4.48 4.39 4.46 4.48 3.89 4.15 4.48 4.37 4.33 4.43 0.686 0.691 0.745 0.721 0.888 0.885 0.918 0.722 0.799 0.762 0.807 4.32 4.42 4.42 4.53 4.47 3.84 4.05 4.21 4.26 4.21 4.11 0.671 0.692 0.692 0.697 0.841 0.958 0.705 0.855 0.733 0.713 0.809 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. 75

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Individuals who had held a leadership position in the agriculture industry rated the organization in which they were most involved in construct trustworthy ( M= 4.40, SD= 0.923) as the highest mean score and the construct balanced ( M= 3.87, SD= 0.922) as the lowest mean score. Individuals who had not held a leadersh ip position in the agricu lture industry rated the constructs expert ( M= 4.75, SD= 0.463), experienced ( M= 4.75, SD= 0.463), and knowledgeable ( M= 4.75, SD= 0.463) with the highest mean scores and the construct balanced ( M= 3.88, SD= 0.835) with the lowest mean score. (See Table 4-30). Table 4-30. Organization Respondent was Most Involved Credibility Construct Means by Leadership Position (n=78) Yes No Construct M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 4.36 4.39 4.33 4.39 4.40 3.87 4.04 4.33 4.27 4.26 4.26 0.703 0.804 0.812 0.786 0.923 0.922 0.924 0.829 0.850 0.829 0.896 4.50 4.62 4.62 4.62 4.62 3.88 4.75 4.75 4.75 4.50 4.62 0.535 0.518 0.518 0.518 0.518 0.835 0.463 0.463 0.463 0.535 0.518 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. Of the respondents who had held a previous leadership position in the agriculture industry, individuals who held the position for 1-2 years rated the c onstructs reliable ( M= 4.67, SD= 0.500) sincere ( M= 4.67, SD= 0.500), trustworthy ( M= 4.67, SD= 0.500), knowledgeable ( M= 4.67, SD= 0.500), and skilled ( M= 4.67, SD= 0.500) with the highest mean scores in regard to the organization that respondents were most involved and the construct balanced ( M= 4.22, SD= 0.441) with the lowest mean score. Individuals who held leadership positions for 2-3 years gave the highest mean scores to the constructs dependable ( M= 4.67, SD= 0.516) and honest 76

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( M= 4.67, SD= 0.516) while the lowest mean score was given to the construct balanced (M= 3.83, SD= 1.169). Individuals who had served in leadership positions for 3-4 ye ars gave the highest mean score to the construct trustworthy ( M= 4.57, SD= 0.787), and the lowest mean scores to the construct balanced ( M= 3.43, SD= 1.272). Those respondents who served in a leadership position for 4-5 years rated the construct sincere ( M= 4.86, SD= 0.378) with the highest mean score and the construct expert ( M= 4.14, SD= 0.900) with the lowest mean score. In the last category of 5-6 years, respondents identified the construct experienced ( M= 4.30, SD= 0.823) as having the highest mean score and the construct balanced (M= 3.77, SD= 0.902) as having the lowest mean score. (See Table 4-31). Table 4-31. Organization Respondent was Most Involved Credibility Construct Means by Length of Leadership Position (n=69) 1-2 years 2-3 years 3-4 years 4-5 years 5-6 years Construct M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 4.56 4.56 4.67 4.67 4.67 4.22 4.33 4.44 4.67 4.56 4.67 0.527 0.527 0.500 0.500 0.500 0.441 0.707 0.726 0.500 0.527 0.500 4.67 4.67 4.50 4.50 4.50 3.83 4.00 4.50 4.33 4.33 4.33 0.516 0.516 0.548 0.548 0.548 1.169 1.265 0.837 1.033 1.033 1.033 4.43 4.29 4.43 4.43 4.57 3.43 4.14 4.14 4.29 4.29 4.00 0.787 0.951 0.787 0.787 0.787 1.272 0.900 1.215 0.951 0.951 1.155 4.57 4.71 4.57 4.86 4.71 4.57 4.14 4.43 4.43 4.43 4.57 0.787 0.488 0.787 0.378 0.756 0.535 0.900 0.787 0.535 0.535 0.535 4.22 4.27 4.18 4.22 4.25 3.77 3.95 4.30 4.15 4.15 4.15 0.733 0.905 0.903 0.891 1.080 0.902 0.959 0.823 0.921 0.893 0.949 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. In regard to the other state agriculture organizations, the male respondents rated the construct of reliable ( M= 3.73, SD=0.849) as the highest and th e construct balanced ( M= 3.16, SD= 0.714 ) as the lowest. Females rate d the construct knowledgeable ( M= 4.00, SD= 1.000) as the highest and the c onstruct trustworthy ( M= 3.71, SD= 0.920) as the lowest. (See Table 4-32). 77

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Table 4-32. Other State Or ganizations Credibility Construct Means by Gender ( n=72) Construct Male Female M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 3.53 3.64 3.56 3.73 3.62 3.16 3.33 3.47 3.46 3.44 3.42 0.790 0.825 0.811 0.849 0.892 0.714 0.904 0.879 0.884 0.856 0.917 3.82 3.88 3.76 3.88 3.71 3.65 3.76 3.88 4.00 3.88 3.82 0.951 0.928 0.831 0.928 0.920 0.931 0.903 0.993 1.000 0.993 1.015 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. In regard to the demographic of age, the group of respondents clas sified as 25-35 years old ranked the other state agriculture or ganizations constructs of sincere ( M= 3.80, SD= 0.837) and trustworthy ( M= 3.80, SD= 0.837) as the highest and the lowe st construct was trustworthy ( M= 4.00, SD= 1.732). In the age category of 36-45, the construct with the highest mean was trustworthy ( M= 3.73, SD= 0.935) and the construct with the lowest mean was balanced ( M= 3.14, SD= 0.834). Within the age category of 46-55 years old, the construct receiv ing the highest mean score were sincere ( M= 3.89, SD= 0.767), and the lowest mean score was balanced ( M= 3.29, SD= 0.750). Lastly, in the age catego ry labeled as 55 or older, the constructs receiving the highest mean scores were dependable ( M= 3.36, SD= 0.809), honest ( M= 3.36, SD= 0.809), reliable (M= 3.36, SD= 0.809), sincere (M= 3.36, SD= 0.809), trustworthy ((M= 3.36, SD= 0.809), experienced (M= 3.36, SD= 0.809) and skilled ( M= 3.36, SD= 0.809); and the constructs receiving the lowest mean scores were balanced ( M= 3.27, SD= 0.786), expert ( M= 3.27, SD= 0.786), and qualified ( M= 3.27, SD= 0.786). (See Table 4-33). 78

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Table 4-33. Other State Or ganizations Credibility Construct Means by Age ( n=73) Construct 25-35 36-45 46-55 55 or older M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 3.40 3.60 3.40 3.80 3.60 3.60 3.40 3.40 3.80 3.60 3.60 0.894 1.140 0.894 0.837 0.548 1.140 0.894 0.894 0.837 0.548 0.548 3.64 3.59 3.55 3.68 3.73 3.14 3.36 3.50 3.55 3.55 3.50 0.790 0.854 0.858 0.894 0.935 0.834 0.953 0.859 0.912 0.858 0.913 3.66 3.83 3.71 3.89 3.63 3.29 3.49 3.66 3.63 3.57 3.51 0.873 0.857 0.825 0.900 0.973 0.750 0.981 1.027 1.031 1.037 1.095 3.36 3.36 3.36 3.36 3.36 3.27 3.27 3.36 3.30 3.27 3.36 0.809 0.809 0.809 0.809 0.809 0.786 0.786 0.809 0.823 0.786 0.809 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. In the education level demographic, respondent s who classified themselves as high school graduates/GED recipients rated other state agriculture organizations constructs as all having the same mean and standard deviations ( M= 2.50, SD= 0.707). Respondents falling into the some college, no degree category rate d the constructs dependable ( M= 3.13, SD= 0.835), honest ( M= 3.13, SD= 0.991), reliable ( M= 3.13, SD= 0.991) and sincere ( M= 3.13, SD= 0.991) as having the highest mean scores a nd all other constructs ( M= 3.00, SD= 0.926 or 1.069) with the lowest mean scores. In the associates degree category, the constructs dependable ( M= 3.00, SD= 0.000), honest ( M= 3.00, SD= 0.000)), reliable (M= 3.00, SD= 0.000), and sincere ( M= 3.00, SD= 0.000) were rated as having the highest mean scores an d all other constructs were rated the same as having the lowest means ( M= 2.00, SD= 0.000). In the category of bachelor degree, the construct receiving the highest mean score was sincere ( M= 3.96, SD= 0.824), and the construct receiving the lowest mean score was balanced ( M= 3.40, SD= 0.837). In the final education level, labeled graduate/professional degree, th e constructs with the highest mean score was sincere ( M= 3.67, SD= 0.767), and the construct with the lo west mean score was balanced ( M= 3.17, SD= 0.618). (See Table 4-34). 79

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Table 4-34. Other State Organi zations Credibility Construct Means by Education Level ( n=74) High School Grad/GED Some College, No Degree Associate Degree Bachelor Degree Graduate, Professional Degree Construct M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 2.50 2.50 2.50 2.50 2.50 2.50 2.50 2.50 2.50 2.50 2.50 0.707 0.707 0.707 0.707 0.707 0.707 0.707 0.707 0.707 0.707 0.707 3.13 3.13 3.13 3.13 3.00 3.00 3.00 3.00 3.00 3.00 3.00 0.835 0.991 0.991 0.991 0.926 0.926 1.069 1.069 1.069 1.069 0.926 3.00 3.00 3.00 3.00 2.00 3.00 2.00 2.00 2.00 2.00 2.00 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 3.80 3.87 3.78 3.96 3.87 3.40 3.62 3.76 3.78 3.69 3.71 0.815 0.815 0.785 0.824 0.815 0.837 0.936 0.908 0.902 0.874 0.895 3.44 3.61 3.50 3.67 3.50 3.17 3.22 3.50 3.53 3.56 3.39 0.705 0.778 0.707 0.767 0.857 0.618 0.647 0.707 0.800 0.784 0.979 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. Individuals who had held a leadership position in the agriculture industry rated the other state agriculture organiza tions construct sincere ( M= 3.71, SD= 0.890) as the highest mean score and the construct balanced ( M= 3.30, SD= 0.803) as the lowest mean sc ore. Individuals who had not held a leadership positi on in the agriculture industry rated the construct sincere ( M= 4.00, SD= 0.756), with the highest mean scores and the construct balanced ( M= 3.00, SD= 0.756) with the lowest mean score. (See Table 4-35). Table 4-35. Other State Organi zations Credibility Construct Means by Leadership Position ( n=74) Yes No Construct M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 3.58 3.67 3.58 3.71 3.59 3.30 3.39 3.55 3.54 3.48 3.47 0.805 0.865 0.824 0.890 0.911 0.803 0.909 0.931 0.953 0.916 0.948 3.75 3.75 3.75 4.00 3.88 3.00 3.50 3.63 3.87 3.87 3.75 1.035 0.886 0.886 0.756 0.835 0.756 1.069 0.916 0.835 0.835 1.035 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. 80

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Of the respondents who had held a previous leadership position in the agriculture industry, individuals who held the position fo r 1-2 years rated the construct dependable ( M= 3.50, SD= 1.179) with the highest mean score in regard to all other state agricu lture organizations and the constructs honest (M= 3.20, SD= 0.919), reliable ( M= 3.20, SD= 0.919), trustworthy ( M= 3.20, SD= 0.919), and balanced ( M= 3.20, SD= 0.919) with the lowest mean scores. Individuals who held leadership positions for 2-3 years gave the highest mean scores to the constructs honest ( M= 3.67, SD= 0.816) and sincere ( M= 3.67, SD= 0.816) while the lowest mean score was given to the construct expert ( M= 3.00, SD= 0.632). Individuals who had served in leadership positions for 3-4 years gave the highest mean scores to the constructs honest ( M= 3.57, SD= 1.134) and trustworthy ( M= 3.57, SD= 0.976) and the lowest mean scores to the construct balanced ( M= 2.71, SD= 0.756). Those respondents who served in a leadership position for 4-5 years rated the construct honest ( M= 4.00, SD= 0.894) with the highest mean scor e and the construct trustworthy ( M= 3.50, SD= 1.049) with the lowest mean score. In th e last category of 5-6 years, respondents identified the construct sincere ( M= 3.81, SD= 0.856) as having the highest mean score and the construct balanced ( M= 3.42, SD= 0.732) as having the lowest mean score. (See Table 4-36). Table 4-36. Other State Organi zations Credibility Construct Means by Length of Leadership Position (n=65) 1-2 years 2-3 years 3-4 years 4-5 years 5-6 years Construct M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD Dependable Honest Reliable Sincere Trustworthy Balanced Expert Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled 3.50 3.20 3.20 3.40 3.20 3.20 3.40 3.40 3.33 3.30 3.30 1.179 0.919 0.919 1.075 0.919 0.919 1.075 1.075 1.118 0.949 0.949 3.50 3.67 3.50 3.67 3.50 3.17 3.00 3.33 3.50 3.33 3.33 0.548 0.816 0.548 0.816 0.548 0.983 0.632 0.516 1.049 0.516 0.516 3.29 3.57 3.29 3.71 3.57 2.71 2.86 3.14 3.14 3.00 3.00 0.756 1.134 0.951 1.113 0.976 0.756 1.215 1.215 1.215 1.155 1.414 3.67 4.00 3.83 3.83 3.50 3.67 3.67 3.67 3.67 3.67 3.67 0.816 0.894 0.753 0.753 1.049 0.816 0.816 0.816 0.816 0.816 0.816 3.67 3.78 3.72 3.81 3.75 3.42 3.53 3.69 3.67 3.64 3.61 0.756 0.797 0.815 0.856 0.937 0.732 0.845 0.920 0.894 0.931 0.934 Note. Bolded means and standard devi ations are the highest coefficients. 81

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Following the credibility index and demogra phic mean scores, ANOVAs were conducted in order to determine if any significant relati onships existed between each of the organizations 11 credibility constructs and the respondents demographics including gender, age, race, education level, leadership position held, and le ngth of time leadership position held. Table 4-37 details the significant relationships between the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the gender demogra phic. The specific constructs that related to the gender demographic included: expert ( F= 8.419, p=<.05) and skilled (F= 4.551, p=<.05). (See Table 4-37). Table 4-37. One-Way Analysis of Variance Significant Relationships between Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Credibility Constructs and Respondents Gender Construct df F Sig. Expert Skilled Between Within Between Within 1 76 1 75 8.419 4.551 .005 .036 There were no significant rela tionships discovered between the Florida Farm Bureau Federation (FFBF) and any of the demographi c responses. Table 4-38 illustrates significant relationships were discovered between gender and the University of Florida/IFAS (UF/IFAS) organizational credibility constructs of reliable ( F =4.561, p=<.05), balanced ( F =3.963, p=<.05), experienced (F =4.971, p=<.05), qualified ( F =4.282, p=<.05), and skilled ( F =7.083, p=<.05). Moreover, Table 4-39 highlights the relationship be tween the University of Florida/IFAS and the respondents level of education ( F =2.510, p=<.05). 82

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Table 4-38. One-Way Analysis of Variance Significant Relationships between UF/IFAS Credibility Constructs and Respondents Gender Construct df F Sig. Reliable Balanced Experienced Qualified Skilled Between Within Between Within Between Within Between Within Between Within 1 78 1 77 1 78 1 78 1 78 4.561 3.963 4.971 4.282 7.083 .036 .050 .029 .042 .009 Table 4-39. One-Way Analysis of Variance Significant Relationships between UF/IFAS Credibility Constructs and Respondents Education Level Construct df F Sig. Expert Between Within 4 76 2.510 .049 Regarding the organization that the respondents were most involved, ANOVAs showed significant relationships in Table 4-40 between the respondents leadership position and whether they perceived the organization as expert ( F= 4.519, p=<.05). Table 4-40. One-Way Analysis of Variance Sign ificant Relationships between the Organization Respondents are Most Involved Credibility Constructs and Leadership Position Construct df F Sig. Expert Between Within 1 76 4.519 .037 Finally, when analyzing all other state organizations as a whole, ANOVAs uncovered significant relationships between gender and the credibility constructs of balance ( F= 5.130, p=<.05) and knowledgeable ( F= 4.481, p=<.05)(Table 4-41). Table 4-41. One-Way Analysis of Variance Si gnificant Relationships between Other State Organizations Credibility Constructs and Gender Construct df F Sig. Balanced Knowledgeable Between Within Between Within 1 70 1 69 5.130 4.481 .027 .038 83

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Further, in Table 4-42, ANOVAs revealed si gnificant relationships between the education demographic and the credibility constructs of dependable (F= 2.734, p=<.05), honest ( F= 2.711, p=<.05), sincere ( F= 3.223,p=<.05), trustworthy ( F= 4.010, p=<.05), experienced (F= 2.903, p=<.05), knowledgeable ( F= 2.907, p=<.05), qualified ( F= 2.577, p=<.05) and skilled ( F= 2.520, p=.049). Table 4-42. One-Way Analysis of Variance Si gnificant Relationships between Other State Organizations Credibility Cons tructs and Education Level Construct df F Sig. Dependable Honest Sincere Trustworthy Experienced Knowledgeable Qualified Skilled Between Within Between Within Between Within Between Within Between Within Between Within Between Within Between Within 4 69 4 69 4 69 4 69 4 69 4 68 4 69 4 69 2.734 2.711 3.223 4.010 2.903 2.907 2.577 2.520 .036 .037 .017 .006 .028 .028 .045 .049 Objective 3 Objective: To determine the factors that infl uence whether an opinion leader will disseminate an organizational me ssage to the general public. This study measured 26 factors believed to influence whether messages were disseminated from opinion leaders down to the general public These factors were based on input from the pilot test groups, the panel of experts and the l iterature. The range scale scores were 1-5 with labels indicating that 1=disagree 3=somewhat agree, and 5=agree. The factor that received the highest mean score indicating a strong tende ncy to pass along the information was The 84

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85 organization presents evidence to support its message ( M =4.55, SD= 0.610 ). The factor that received the lowest mean score indicating a w eaker tendency to pass along the information was The organizations inte nt is questionable ( M= 2.01, SD=1.174). Table 4-43 exhibi ts the factors, frequencies, means, and standard deviati ons of the 26 factors used in the study.

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Table 4-43. Frequencies and Per centages of Factors that Influenced Informati on Dissemination by Florida Opinion Leaders (n=79) Information Dissemination Factor Likert Rank Response M SD I understand the organizatio ns stance on the issue. I agree with the organizati ons stance on the issue. Based on my past interactions with the organization, I have positive feelings toward the organization. Based on my past interactions with the organization, I have negative feelings towa rd the organization. I personally know others w ithin the organization. I have personal time to relay information. I perceive personal detrimental consequences based on the organizations information. I perceive detrimental consequences for others based on the organizations information. I perceive personal benefits based on the organizations information. The organization has a vested interest in the issue. The organization presents ev idence to support its message. I feel a sense of responsibility to others to pass along the information. The organization is familiar to me. The organization appears to be well-managed. 1 0 (0.0) 8 (8.5) 3 (3.2) 27 (28.7) 2 (2.1) 1 (1.1) 13 (13.8) 11 (11.7) 5 (5.3) 1 (1.1) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 1 (1.1) 1 (1.1) 2 0 (0.0) 4 (4.3) 3 (3.2) 25 (26.6) 2 (2.1) 5 (5.3) 16 (17.0) 16 (17.0) 6 (6.4) 4 (4.3) 0 (0.0) 1 (1.1) 2 (2.1) 2 (2.1) 3 6 (6.4) 20 (21.3) 16 (17.0) 17 (18.1) 16 (17.0) 10 (10.6) 9 (9.6) 11 (11.7) 11 (11.7) 19 (20.2) 5 (5.3) 13 (13.8) 8 (8.5) 12 (12.8) 4 27 (28.7) 17 (18.1) 26 (27.7) 11 (11.7) 28 (29.8) 32 (34.0) 23 (24.5) 27 (28.7) 38 (40.4) 37 (39.4) 27 (28.7) 30 (31.9) 35 (37.2) 35 (37.2) 5 50 (53.2) 34 (36.2) 35 (37.2) 2 (2.1) 35 (37.2) 35 (37.2) 22 (23.4) 18 (19.1) 23 (24.5) 22 (23.4) 51 (54.3) 39 (41.5) 37 (39.4) 33 (35.1) 4.53 3.78 4.05 2.22 4.11 4.14 3.30 3.30 3.82 3.90 4.55 4.29 4.27 4.17 .631 1.298 1.047 1.122 .963 .939 1.446 1.359 1.106 .892 .610 .773 .828 .853 86Note. Bolded coefficients represent the highest frequencies and percentage s within each factor.

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87Table 4-43. Continued Information Dissemination Factor Likert Type Response M SD The organization appears to be motivated by profit. The organizations information is new to me. The organizations information conflicts with previous information that Ive heard. The issue is controversial in nature. I am a member of the organization The issue affects my livelihood. The organization has a logical association with the issue. The organizations intent is questionable. The issue evokes a personal emotional response. The issue is against my personal values/beliefs. The issue affects a large number of people. The issue has large financial implications. 1 26 (27.7) 7 (7.4) 14 (14.9) 6 (6.4) 3 (3.2) 1 (1.1) 0 (0.0) 37 (39.4) 4 (4.3) 25 (26.6) 1 (1.1) 1 (1.1) 2 22 (23.4) 16 (17.0) 18 (19.1) 12 (12.8) 6 (6.4) 9 (9.6) 3 (3.2) 23 (24.5) 17 (18.1) 23 (24.5) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 3 25 (26.6) 30 (31.9) 23 (24.5) 36 (38.3) 14 (14.9) 20 (21.3) 8 (8.5) 12 (12.8) 20 (21.3) 9 (9.6) 22 (23.4) 9 (9.6) 4 8 (8.5) 23 (24.5) 24 (25.5) 24 (25.5) 27 (28.7) 53 (56.4) 34 (36.2) 7 (7.4) 23 (24.5) 14 (14.9) 28 (29.8) 31 (33.0) 5 1 (1.1) 7 (7.4) 4 (4.3) 5 (5.3) 33 (35.1) 83 (88.3) 37 (39.4) 4 (4.3) 18 (19.1) 11 (11.7) 31 (33.0) 39 (41.4) 2.22 3.08 2.83 3.12 3.98 4.49 4.28 2.01 3.41 2.55 4.07 4.34 1.043 1.073 1.167 .980 1.093 0.787 0.790 1.174 1.186 1.424 0.872 0.779 Note. Bolded coefficients represent the highest frequencies and percentage s within each factor.

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Additionally, this study measured 10 personality factors intended to measure the level of introversion and extroversion of Florida agricultural opinion leaders. These factors were based on input from the panel of expert s and the literature. The survey respondents were presented with a statement in which they selected agree or disagree. Labels were given to the terms agree and disagree in order to transform them into numerical figures for the purpose of calculating means. The number 1 was assigned to the te rm agree and the number 2 was assigned to the term disagree. Within the extroversion category, Table 4-44 highlights the factor that received the highest mean score indicating a tendency to disagree with the statement was I like to be the center of attention ( M= 1.77, SD= 0.421). Additionally, the factor that received the lowest mean score indicating a tendency to agree with the statement was I am skilled in handling social situations ( M =1.04, SD =0.187). Table 4-44. Frequencies and Per centages of Extroversion Factors of Florida Agriculture Opinion Leaders Agree Disagree M SD I like to be the center of attention. I like to be the lif e of the party. I like to be where the action is occurring. I make new friends easily. I am skilled in handling social situations. 19 (20.2%) 21 (22.3%) 61 (64.9%) 71 (75.5%) 81 (86.2%) 65 (69.1%) 63 (67.0%) 19 (20.2%) 12 (12.8%) 3 (3.2%) 1.77 1.75 1.24 1.14 1.04 0.421 .0436 0.428 0.354 0.187 Note. Bolded coefficients represent the highest frequencies and percentage s within each factor. Table 4-45 summarizes the intr oversion category and reveals th e factor that received the highest mean score indicating a tendency to disa gree with the statement which was I dont like to go out on the weekends (M= 1.77, SD =0.738). The statement that received the lowest mean 88

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score indicating a tendency towards agreemen t was I like to work independently ( M= 1.23, SD =0.423). Table 4-45. Frequencies and Per centages of Introversion Factors of Florida Agriculture Opinion Leaders Agree Disagree M SD I dont like to go out on the weekends. I am quiet around strangers. I dont like to draw at tention to myself. I often enjoy spending time alone. I like to work independently. 24 (25.5%) 32 (34%) 52 (55.3%) 63 (67.0%) 64 (68.1%) 58 (61.7%) 51 (54.3%) 32 (34.0%) 20 (21.3%) 19 (20.2%) 1.77 1.61 1.38 1.24 1.23 0.738 0.490 0.489 0.430 0.423 Note. Bolded coefficients represent the highest frequencies and percentage s within each factor. Once the frequencies and per centages of the factors that that influence message dissemination were determined, a Pearson Produ ct Moment Correlation coefficients were computed to reveal if any correlations existed between the message factors and personality factors. The magnitudes of the correlations ar e presented and discusse d using the correlation magnitudes suggested by Miller (1994). Pearson r was used for all of the analyses. Correlation coefficients between 0.01 and 0.09 are considered negligible, correlations between 0.10 and 0.29 are considered low, correlat ions between 0.30 and 0.49 are considered moderate, correlations between 0.50 and 0.69 are considered substant ial, correlations between 0.70 and 0.99 are considered very high, and a correlation coefficient of 1.00 is considered perfect (Miller, 1994). The first correlations present existed between the message factor I agree with the organizations stance on the issue and the person ality factor I dont like to draw attention to myself ( r= -0.237). This correlation was a negative correlation meaning th at those individuals who do not enjoy drawing attention to them selves will in fact draw attention to themselves if they agree with the organizations stance on the issue. A second correlation existed between this message 89

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factor and I enjoy being the center of attention ( r= 0.229) demonstrating th at individuals who enjoy being the center of attention will disseminate a message if they agree with the organizations stance on the issue. Table 4-46. Pearson Correlation Between Personality Factors and Message Factors Variable I agree with the orga nizations stance on the issue I dont like to draw at tention to myself I enjoy being the cen ter of attention -0.237 0.229 The second correlations found revolved around the message factor of based on my past interactions with the organiza tion, I have negative feelings toward the organization. The personality factors that correlated with this st atement included: I like to work independently ( r= -0.229) and I dont like to go out on the weekends ( r = -0.269). These scores indicate individuals who like working independently were le ss likely to have negativ e feelings from past interactions with the organization. Moreover, individuals that do not enjoy going out on the weekends were also less likely to have negative feelings toward the organization because of past interactions. Table 4-47. Pearson Correlation Between Message Factors and Personality Factors Variable Based on my past intera ctions with the organization, I have negative feelings toward the organization I like to work independently I dont like to go out on the weekends -.229 -.269 The third set of correlations between message factors and pe rsonality factors includes I feel a sense of responsib ility to others to pass along the information and I make new friends easily ( r= -0.241). The negative correlation indicates that individua ls who make new friends easily feel less of a sense of responsibility to pass along organizational information to others. 90

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Table 4-48. Pearson Correlation Between Personality Factors and Message Factors Variable I feel a sense of responsibility to others to pass along the information I make new friends easily -.241 The fourth set of correlations between message factors and personality factors revolves around the message factor of the issue is contro versial in nature and I like to be where the action is occurring ( r = 0.301). This correlation suggests that individuals who enjoy being where they perceive action to be occurring will pass alo ng information to others if the issue happens to be controversial in nature. Table 4-49. Pearson Correlation Between Personality Factors and Message Factors Variable The issue is c ontroversial in nature I like to be where the action is occurring 0.301 The fifth set of correlations between message factors and pe rsonality factors involves the message variable I am a member of the organi zation and I dont like to draw attention to myself (r= -0.235). This correlation suggests that indi viduals who dont enjoy drawing attention to themselves are less likely to be members of organizations. Table 4-50. Pearson Correlation Between Personality Factors and Message Factors Variable I am a member of the organization I dont like to draw attention to myself -0.235 The sixth set of correlations that exists be tween includes the message factor the issue affects a large number of people and I am quiet around strangers ( r= -0.270). This negative correlation suggests that i ndividuals who are typica lly quiet around strangers will in fact diffuse an organizations message if the issu e affects a large number of people. Table 4-51. Pearson Correlation Between Personality Factors and Message Factors Variable The issue affects a large number of people. I am quiet around strangers -0.270 91

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Objective 4 Objective : To describe the relationship between source credibility and opinion leaders decision to distribute information to the public This objective sought to gain a better understandi ng of organizational source credibility by comparing each organizations 11 individual credib ility constructs with the 26 message factors that influence message dissemination. However, in order to gain all of th ese correlations, Pearson Product Moment Correlation would have to be run 1,430 times in order to accurately see each correlation. Therefore, to make th e data and the results more ma nageable, the 26 message factors were collapsed into three distinct areas. Haley (1996) posited that messages from organizations can be categorized by perception of the issue, perception of self, and perception of the organization. Therefore each of the 26 factors was collapsed into one of these three areas. Then Pearson Product Moment correlations were conducted on each of the organizations 11 credibility constructs with the three new s cale variables, leaving 165 correlations to be examined for significance. Of the 165 correlation examined, three of th em were statistically significant. The first correlation between the organizati onal credibility constructs and the message factors existed between the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consum er Services construct of skilled and the opinion leaders perception of themselves ( r= 0.240). Table 4-52. Pearson Correlation Between Organizational Credibility Factors and Scale Message Factors Organization & Construct Perception of Individual FDACS, skilled 0.240 92

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93 The second and third significant correlations we re seen in regards to the perception of the individual and the University of Florida/IFAS construct of honest ( r= 0.236) and the construct of reliable (r= 0.239). Table 4-53. Pearson Correlation Between Organizational Credibility Factors and Scale Message Factors Organization & Construct Perception of Individual UF/IFAS, honest UF/IFAS, reliable 0.236 0.239 Summary This chapter presented the findings of the study. Findings were organized and presented by the following objectives: 1. To determine the amount of information that Florida agriculture op inion leaders receive from selected Florida ag riculture organizations. 2. To determine the perceptions of source credib ility of selected organizations in Florida agriculture utilized by opinion leaders. 3. To determine the factors that influence wh ether an opinion leader will disseminate an organizational message to the general public. 4. To describe the relationship between source credibility and opinion le aders decision to distribute information to the public. Chapter 5 will summarize the study and discu sses the conclusions, implications and recommendations of this study.

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CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS This chapter summarizes the study and discu sses the conclusions, implications, and recommendations that have been drawn from the study. The first section of this chapter provides an overview of the study, including the purpose and specific objectives, methodologies, and findings. The remainder of the chapter discusses th e conclusions from the findings, implications of the findings, and recommendations for future research. The problem that was addressed by this study was the lack of knowledge surrounding agricultural organizations as sour ces of information and the factor s that influence opinion leaders to disseminate information from agricultural organi zations. A review of the literature showed an absence of research in these areas. The purpose of this study was to examine th e perceived source credibility of Florida agricultural organizations as view ed by Florida agricultural opinion leaders. In addition, this study sought to gain an understanding of the amount of information opinion leaders receive from Florida agriculture organizations as well as uncover factors that contribute to an opinion leader disseminating an organizations message. This study also described the population of the WLIANR alumni in terms of gender, age, e ducation levels, and length of time leadership position held. The following research objectives were used to guide this study: 1) determine the amount of information that Flor ida agriculture opinion leaders receive from selected Florida agriculture organizations, 2) de termine the perceptions of source credibility of selected organizations in Florida agricultu re utilized by opinion leaders, 3) determine the factors that influence whether an opinion leader will dissem inate an organizational message to the general public, and 4) describe the rela tionship between source credibility and opinion leaders decision to distribute information to the public. 94

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The study utilized the census survey research design, which asks a seri es of questions to the entire population being studied. The survey instrument was research er-developed, reviewed by a panel of experts for face and content validity and distributed twice as a pilot test to obtain acceptable reliability scores. In this study, the p opulation was defined as all alumni members of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute since th e inception of the leadership program ( N= 163). Responses were obtained from 94 of the 163 alumni members, for an overall response rate of 57.7%. Summary of Findings Objective 1 Objective 1 sought to determin e the amount of information th at Florida agriculture opinion leaders receive from selected Florida agricultu re organizations. The or ganizations that were selected to be surveyed for this objective in cluded Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Farm Bureau Federati on, University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the organization in whic h the respondent was most involved, and all other collective state agricultural organizations. The or ganization that received the highest mean score indicating that the opinion leaders surveyed receiv ed the most information from this organization was the organization in which th e respondent was most involved (M = 4.18, SD =0.977). The respondents were asked to identify which organization that they were most involved. The Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association was cited by 11 (19.6%) respondents making it the most cited organization in which respondents were most involved. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services received the lowest score (M= 2.62, SD = 0.986) indicating that of the five organizations selected for this objective, opinion leaders got the leas t of their information from FDACS. 95

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There were also significant relationships discovered betw een demographic data and the organizations from which opinion leaders receive information. Ther e was a significant relationship between individuals who received their information from Florida Farm Bureau Federation and their education le vel. The group that received the majority of their information from the Florida Farm Bureau Federation indi cated that they had some college, no degree (M=3.38, SD=1.408). The educational level of res pondents that received th e least information from Florida Farm Bureau Federation was identi fied as graduate or professional degree (M=2.30, SD=1.218). Additionally, there existed a relationship be tween individuals who received information from Florida Farm Bureau Federation and the length of time they served in a leadership position. The demographic that received the most informa tion from FFBF was the group that had served in a leadership position for 5-6 years (M=3.48, SD=1.219). The demographic that received the least amount of information from FFBF were t hose individuals who served in a leadership position for 3-4 years (M=2.13, SD= 0.835). Finally, there was a relati onship between individuals who received their information from the organizati on they were most involved in and whether or not the individual had held a leadership positi on. Individuals who had held a leadership position (M=4.31, SD=0.857) received more of their informa tion from an organization they were most involved in than did those who did not hold a leadership position (M=3.25, SD=1.282). No relationships were discovered between demographics and the fo llowing organizations, in relation to information reception: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and all othe r collective state agricultural organizations. 96

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Objective 2 The second objective focused on determining th e perceptions of source credibility of selected organizations in Florida agriculture that are utilized by Florida opinion leaders. Overall credibility for each organization was measured by independently assessing 11 constructs that make up credibility. These constructs includ ed dependability, honesty, reliability, sincerity, trustworthiness, balanced, expertness, expe rienced, knowledgeable, qualified, and skilled. Organizational Individual Construct Ratings In regard to the Florida Department of Ag riculture and Consumer Services, the construct that received the highest rati ng by opinion leaders was honest ( M= 3.93, SD= 0.934), with the construct balanced receiv ed the lowest rating ( M= 3.42, SD= 0.939). The Florida Farm Bureau Federations highest cons truct rating was honest ( M= 4.13, SD =0.872), and the construct that scored the lowest in this organization was balanced ( M= 3.49, SD =1.048). The University of Florida highest construct m ean came from knowledgeable ( M= 4.41, SD =0.695), and the construct that received the lowe st mean score was balanced (M= 3.69, SD =0.994).The organization in which the respondent was most involved received its hi ghest construct rating with trustworthy ( M= 4.41, SD= 0.899) and its lowest constr uct rating was balanced ( M= 3.85, SD= 0.927). Finally, in regard to a ll other state organizations, th e construct that received the highest mean score was sincere ( M = 3.72, SD= 0.894) and the construct that received the lowest mean score was balanced (M= 3.25, SD= 0.807). Overall, the construct balanced consistently scored as the lowest construct for each of the five organizational categories. Organizational Credibility Index Once all the specific constructs were measur ed for each organization, a credibility index was created for each organization in order to secure an overall credibility mean. The organizational category that recei ved the highest credib ility mean score was the organization in 97

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which respondents were most involved ( M= 4.27, SD =0.732). The organizational category that received the lowest credibility mean sc ore was all other state organizations ( M= 3.50, SD =0.852). Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Moreover, each of the organi zations credibility construc ts were computed by ANOVAs to examine if any relationships were found be tween the constructs and the demographics. Relationships were found between gender and FDACS constructs of expert and skilled. In terms of the expert construct, females ( M= 4.11, SD= 0.937) were found to rate FDACS as more of an expert that males (M= 3.37, SD= 0.963). In fact, males rated the c onstruct expert with the overall lowest construct mean while females rated expert as having the highest ov erall mean over any of the other constructs. Additionally, females ( M =4.05, SD= 0.970) were found to rate FDACS as more skilled than males ( M= 3.57, SD= 0.819). University of Florida/IFAS There were also significant gender diffe rences when rating the University of Florida/IFAS. Both genders leaned toward scoring the university as more of an expert and less of a trustworthy source of information. Females ( M= 4.35, SD= 0.745) rated the construct reliable higher than did males ( M= 3.90, SD= 0.838). Males ( M= 3.58, SD= 1.046) also rated the construct balanced lower than females ( M= 4.11, SD= 0.809). Moreover, females ( M= 4.60, SD= 0.681) found UF/IFAS to be more experienced than did males ( M= 4.12, SD= 0.885). Females ( M= 4.65, SD= 0.587) also found UF/IFAS to be more qualified than did males (M= 4.28, SD= 0.715). Lastly, females ( M= 4.70, SD= 0.571) rated the construct sk illed higher than males ( M= 4.25, SD= 0.680). Additionally, statistical analysis revealed a significant relationship between education level and the c onstruct expert. This relationship wa s highlighted because each of the educational categories except for associate degree had rated the construct expert as having a mean of higher than a four. The associate degree category rated the expert construct as being a 98

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two. This discrepancy can be explained by exam ining the number of respondents who fell into the associate degree category as being only one respondent. Organization that Respondents were Most Involved In regard to the organization that res pondents were most involved, there existed a relationship between the construc t expert and individuals who had held a leadership position. Individuals who had not held a leadership position ( M= 4.75, SD= 0.463) rated the organization they were most involved as most of an expert th an individuals who had held a leadership position ( M= 4.04, SD= 0.924). Other State Organizations Moreover, females ( M= 3.65, SD=0.931) rated other state organizations construct balanced higher than did males ( M= 3.16, SD =0.714). Females ( M= 4.00, SD= 1.000) also rated other state organizations construct of knowledgeable higher than did males (M= 3.46, SD=0.884). There were also relationships discov ered between credibil ity constructs and respondents education level. The construct depe ndable was rated lowest by individuals whose highest educational level was a hi gh school degree/GED recipient ( M =2.50, SD= 0.707) and rated highest by individuals with bachelors degrees ( M= 3.80, SD= 0.815). The construct honest was rated lowest by individuals with a high school degree/GED recipient ( M =2.50, SD= 0.707) and rated the highest by individuals with bachelors degrees ( M= 3.87, SD= 0.815). The construct sincere was rated lowest by individuals with a high sc hool degree/GED recipient ( M =2.50, SD= 0.707) and rated the highest by indivi duals with bachelors degrees ( M= 3.96, SD= 0.824). The construct trustworthy was rated lowe st by individuals with an associates degree( M =2.00, SD= 0.000) and rated the highest by indivi duals with bachelors degrees ( M= 3.87, SD= 0.815). The construct experienced was ra ted lowest by indi viduals with an associates degree ( M =2.00, SD= 0.000) and rated the highest by individuals with bachelors 99

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degrees ( M= 3.76, SD= 0.908). The construct knowledgeable was rated lowest by individuals with an associates degree (M =2.00, SD= 0.000) and rated the highest by individuals with bachelors degrees (M= 3.78, SD= 0.902). The construct qualified was rated lowest by individuals with an associates degree (M =2.00, SD= 0.000) and rated the highest by individuals with bachelors degrees (M= 3.69, SD= 0.874). The construct skilled was rated lowest by individuals with an associates degree (M =2.00, SD= 0.000) and rated the highest by individuals with bachelors degrees (M= 3.71, SD= 0.895). Objective 3 This objective sought to determine the factor s that influence whet her an opinion leader will disseminate an organizational message to the general public. Twenty-six factors were measured and each factor fell into one of th ree categories: perception of the organization, perception of the issue, and per ception of self. Of these three ca tegories, perception of self had the highest mean score ( M= 3.93, SD= 0.658). Of all the factors, the factor that received the highest mean score, indicating a strong tende ncy to pass along the information, was the organization presents evidence to support its message ( M= 4.55, SD= 0.610). The factor that received the lowest mean score, indicating a weak tendency to pass al ong the information, was the organizations inte nt is questionable ( M= 2.01, SD= 1.174). Additionally, this study measured 10 personality factors of opinion leaders to determine introversion or extroversion persona lity types. The personality fact or that received the highest frequency was I am skilled in handling social situations with 86.2% (n=81) of the respondents agreeing to this statement. In the dissenting ca tegory, the factor that received the highest frequency was I like to be th e center of attention with 69.1% (n=65) disagreeing with this statement. 100

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Moreover, Pearson Product Moment Correlations revealed that ther e were significant correlations between the factors that measur ed message dissemination and the personality factors. It was found that the i ndividuals who dont like drawing attention to themselves and the individuals who agree with th e organizations stance on an issue correlated negatively ( r= -0.237). This correlation explains that the more an individual agrees with the organizations stance on an issue, the more likely they are to draw attention to themselves. It appears that if an individual feels passionately a bout the organizations stance on an issue, th en they will draw attention to themselves in or der to explain the organization s stance to others. However, individuals who agree with the organizations stance on the issue were also found to have a positive correlation with I enjoy being the center of attention ( r= 0.229). Therefore, it would seem that those individuals who enjoy being in the spotlight will pass along a message from an organization if they agree with the organizati ons stance on an issue because they truly enjoy defending or explaining the orga nizations stance to others. A second set of correlations revolved around the message dissemination factor of based on my past interactions with th e organization, I have negative f eelings toward the organization. Correlations revealed that individuals who like working independently are less likely to have negative feelings toward organiza tions based on past experiences (r= -0.229). This correlation might suggest that those who work independently and are not working directly with others, who could influence them, have less negative feelings towards an organization. In the same manner, individuals who indicated that they did not like to go out on the weekends also correlated negatively with negative feelings based on prior interactions ( r= -0.269). This correlation again reveals that seemingly the less contact with others an individual has, th e less likely the individual has negative feelings about an orga nization based on past interactions. 101

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The third set of correlations was based on the message dissemination factor of I feel a sense of responsibility to others to pass along the information. It was discovered that individuals who make new friends easily do not feel as sens e of responsibility to others to pass along the information (r= -0.241). The correlation could be interpreted that just because an opinion leader might make new friends easily does not mean that enough of a relationship has been formed in order for the opinion leader to f eel responsibility to those peop le in passing along information they may have received. Another interesting correlation was found between the factors the issue is controversial in nature and I like to be wh ere the action is occurring ( r= 0.301). This correlation suggested that if the issue is controversial in nature then those individuals who will pass along the message enjoy being where the action is occurring. An additional correlation discovered a negati ve relationship between the factors I dont like to draw attention to myself and I am a member of the organization ( r= -0.235). Therefore, this correlation would suggest th at those individuals who do not like attention drawn to them do not pass along information in wh ich they have a membership. One final correlation was discovered between th e message dissemination factor of the issue affects a large number of people and the pe rsonality factor I am quiet around strangers ( r= -0.270). This correlation indicated that when the issue affects a larg e number of people, opinion leaders are less likely to be quiet ar ound those they may not know. This correlation indicated that opinion leaders want to get information out to as many people as possible if they feel an issue could have im plications for many people. Objective 4 The final objective in this study revolved around describing the relationship between source credibility and opinion leaders decisions to distribute information to the public. 102

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The Florida Department of Agriculture and Cons umer Services construct of skilled was found to have a significant correlation with the message factors that composed the perception of the individuals ( r= 0.240). This relationship demonstrates that the manner in which the opinion leaders perceive themselves is related to their perception of FDACS as skilled. Furthermore, the message factors that made up the perception of the individual were also correlated with the Univ ersity of Florida/IFAS construct of honest ( r= 0.236) and the construct of reliable ( r= 0.239). Again, the perception that opinion leaders have of themselves are related to their opinions about the UF/IFAS credibility constructs of being honest and reliable. Conclusions Opinion leaders receive the majority of their information from organizations in which they are most involved. Organizations whose primary goal is research and education (ex. UF/IFAS) rated higher on the expertise constructs of credibility incl uding: knowledgeable, qualified, expert, skilled, and experienced. UF/IFAS rated lower on the tr ustworthiness constructs of credibility including: honest, dependable, trustwor thy, sincere, reliable and balanced. Opinion leaders trust the information the most that originates from the organization in which they are most involved. Opinion leaders consistently rate d all of the organizations used in this study as lacking in the credibility construct of balanced. Opinion leaders who had previously held lead ership positions were found to rank the same highest organizational construc t for each organization as did the entire population being studied. UF/IFAS constructs relating to the expertise aspect of credibility rated higher than the constructs relating to the trustworthiness aspect. The organization in which the respondent was most involved was rated higher in trustworthiness and lower in expertise on the credibility scale. Females determined that FDACS to be a sour ce of information high in expertise while males expressed belief that F DACS to be low in expertise. Younger opinion leaders with less leadership experience were more likely to view FDACS as an expert than any other age or experience category. 103

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For all of the organizations ex cept UF/IFAS, females rated the expertise constructs higher, but males rated the trustworthiness factors higher. Both males and females rated UF/IFAS expe rtise constructs higher than trustworthy constructs. All age groups rated UF/IFAS higher in the ex pertise section of the credibility scale and lower in the trustworthiness sec tion of the credibility scale. FFBF was rated higher on the tr ustworthiness aspect of the credibility scale and lower on the expertise aspect. FFBF received the highest trustworthy mean sc ores from individuals in the 55 years and older demographic. These individuals said FFBF was more trustworthy than it had expertise. Individuals in the 25-35 age demographic were the only category to rate FFBF with a highest mean score in the expertise portion of the credibility scale. Individuals who had previously held leadership positions viewed FFBF as more trustworthy with less expertise, while those who had not pr eviously held leadership positions viewed FFBF as having more expertise. Individuals who had previously held leadership positions ranked the organizations they were most involved in as having higher expe rtise and lower trustwor thiness on the overall credibility scale. I ndividuals who had not previously held leadership positions saw the organization they were most i nvolved in as having more expertise and less trustworthiness on the credibility scale. All educational demographic categories rated other state organizations as having the highest individual credibility construct of sincere. Both those who had previously held leadership positions as well as those who had not held leadership positions indicated that they percei ved other state organizations to be sincere. Opinion leaders will be most likely to pa ss along information when they understand the organizations stance on the issue. Individuals with stronger extroversion pe rsonalities will be more likely to pass along information from organizations. If opinion leaders agree with the organizations stance on an issue, they will be more likely to draw attention to themselves. 104

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Discussion and Implications There has been little research done that has examined the organization as a source of information (Newell & Goldsmith, 2001). However, corporate and organizat ional credibility has remained an important research avenue. H ealy (2005) quoted Project for Excellence in Journalism director Tom Rosenstield as stati ng The best each organization can do is try to improve its own credibility. This study sought to understand the perceived credibility of a few agricultural organizations in th e state of Florida in order to lay the groundwork for studying agricultural organizational credibility. By unders tanding the basic components of credibility, as well as understanding how differing demographics view organizations, the work may begin on actually improving each orga nizations credibility. Information Reception from Organizations This study found that opinion leaders receive the majority of their information from the organization in which they are involved the most Following the organization in which they are most involved, Florida opinion leaders will seek in formation from an educational entity such as the University of Florida/ IFAS. In this study, it was found that onl y after opinion leaders received information from their organizati on of involvement and UF/IFAS did they get information from other state agricultural orga nizations in which they were not a member. Therefore, in order to successfully distribute a message, it would appear that an organization will have the most success by creating buy-in for their own membership before trying to expand the message to reach others in the industry. Organizational Credibility This studys credibility index indicated that no t only did the study par ticipants receive the majority of their information from the organizati on that they were most involved, but they also found the organization in which that they were most involved more credible than any other 105

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organization listed in the study. Following the organization in wh ich they were most involved, respondents listed the University of Florida/IFAS as being the s econd most credible organization in the study. When analyzing the individual cred ibility constructs, it can be seen that the construct rated the highest in regard to the organization the respondent was most involved was trustworthiness, while the responde nts rated the University of Flor ida/IFAS highest construct as being knowledgeable. This finding can be linked b ack to Lui and Standings (1989) finding that when sources are compared based on trustworthin ess and expertise, individuals will find the source they deem as trustworthy mo re credible than one they deem as being an expert. The same finding was true in this study. Respondents found the organization they trusted the most as being more credible than the expert source. Moreover, Sternthal, Phillips, and Dholakia ( 1978) asserted that the organization deemed as highly credible is able to extract greater advocacy support; th erefore, the organizations that opinion leaders are most involved in should be the some of the largest advocacy groups in the state. The organization that respondents listed as being most involved in was the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association whose Web site claims to be leadi ng voice of Florida agriculture (ffva.com, 2009). After analyzing all of the orga nizational credibility constructs, the construct balanced was consistently rated as lowest for all five organi zations. However, the construct honest was rated as one of the two highest means for all organizations except UF/IFAS. Therefore, opinion leaders appear to believe that even if organizations lack balance in their information, the organization can still be regarded as relatively honest. This lack of balance could be attributed to Rogers (2002) who noted that opinion leaders tend to be more exposed to external media and communication efforts. Additionally, Ruths (2 005) study revealed th e agriculture industry 106

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tends to talks to itself, mean ing communicating to agricultural media and audiences and ignoring the consumer media and non-agricultural publics (p. 111). It appears that because opinion leaders are more aware of the pr esence of external media and real ize that the industry tends to talk to itself, they feel the informati on from industry organizations is unbalanced. The constructs that received the highest mean scores for each organization are as follows: FDACS honest, FFBhonest, UF/IFAS-knowle dgeable, Organization respondent most involvedtrustworthy, Other st ate organizationssincere. Wh en broken down by demographics, it can be seen that individuals who had held leadership positions ra ted the organizational constructs the same as the overall mean scores. Th erefore, it might be hypot hesized that there are leaders within opinion leader groups Individuals who previously he ld leadership positions could have possibly influenced the others in the group to rate the organizational constructs in the same manner that they did. Overall, respondents scored a total of 55 unique credibility constructs. There were five organizations and each organization was scored on 11 different constructs relating to credibility. Of those 55 credibility constructs females rated 48 of them higher than did males. This finding would indicate that overall, female opinion leader s tend to find agricultu ral organizations more credible than did males. This tendency can be linked backed to OKeefe (1990) who noted that credibility is not an intrinsic property of a communicator; a message source may be thought highly credible by one perceiver and not at all credible by an other (p. 131). Females also consistently rated the construc ts relating to expertise as higher on the credibility scale, while males consistently rate d constructs relating to trustworthiness higher on the credibility scale. It would appear that females judge an agricultural organi zations overall credibility by the amount of e xpertise the organization can o ffer. On the other hand, males 107

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appear to predominately judge an organizations overall credibility by the amount of trustworthiness the organization offers to them. Not only were there discrepancies in how re spondents rated organizational credibility by gender but also by age. FFBF received its highest trustworthy means scores from individuals in the 55 years or older category. Th is conclusion means that older individuals trust Florida Farm Bureau more than they deem it to be an expe rt. In fact, the youngest age group, 25-35, was the only age demographic that rated FFBF as a pr edominately expert organization. It may be possible that the older in dividuals get, the less th ey see FFBF as an organization with expertise and more of an organization with trustworthiness. But if this is true, then based on Liu and Standing (1989), individuals prefer trustworthiness to expertise. So as indi viduals get older, they could prefer FFBF to a newer organization providi ng expertise, because they have developed an attitude of trustworthiness towards FFBF. Moreover, opinion leaders who have previously held leadership positions find FFBF to be more trustworthy and less expert on the credibility scale. However, opinion leaders who have not previously held leadersh ip positions find FFBF to be more expert and less trustworthy. As with the age conclusion, this conclusion could mean that as opinion leaders mature and hold leadership positi ons within the industry, their attitude shifts from thinking that FFBF is an expert organization. When looking at all other state organizations, op inion leaders, regardle ss if they had held a leadership position or not and across all edu cational groups, found these organizations to be sincere. While opinion leaders may not judge other agricultural organizations high in the expertise category, this rating appears to demonstrat e that opinion leaders be lieve in the sincerity of the organizations efforts. 108

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Factors that Encourage Diffusion of Messages There were some factors in this study that supported previo us literature findings about the message dissemination from credible sources. The factor that scored th e second highest mean score in terms of its importa nce to opinion leaders when pa ssing down information from an organization was I understand the organization s stance on the issue. In a study on shaping public opinion, Page et al. (1987) included the information must be understood by recipients as one of the top five features that must be presen t in order to have an impact on public opinion. One factor in this study that was found to be a positive factor in diffusing a message from an organization was that the opinion leader had positive feelings toward the organization based on past interactions. An indivi duals feelings and attitudes sh ape their overall pe rception of the organization. Kelman and Eagly (1965) revealed that when individuals felt negatively about an information source, they were more likely to mi sinterpret the sources message. In fact, Kelman and Eagly found that when there are positive f eelings toward the information source, the individuals tend to align thei r own beliefs more with the source of information. Another factor that was used in the study th at supported past literature was if the opinion leaders personally knew others in the organi zation. In this study, knowing others in the organization indicated a strong tendency to pass along the inform ation from the organization. Rogers (2003) reported opinion l eaders as being at the center of interpersonal communication networks (p. 27). Similarly, Beckman (1967) noted that an aspect that has beenreinforcedis that in terpersonal relationships between opinion leaders and othersinfluenced decisions (p. 37). Personality Factors and Message Dissemination In terms of personality factors affecting me ssages from organizations being disseminated, it can be derived that opinion leaders with strong ex troversion personalities will be more likely to 109

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pass along information from organizations. This study found that those who agree with the organizations stance on an issue enjoy being th e center of attention. This finding seemed to support the notion put forward by Schefuele and Shah (2000) who stated it may be important to identify individuals with personality streng th and direct resources towards them (p.125). Also, it can be concluded from this study that when an organization has information to distribute that is controversial in nature, th e organization should seek extroverted opinion leaders. Those individuals who like to be where the action is occurring are more likely to pass down controversial information than their introverted counterparts. National Research Agenda The previous conclusions, discussion and implications can all be linked back to Agriculture Education and Co mmunication National Research Agenda 2007-2010. Specifically this study aids in the following re search priority areas (RPA): RPA 1: Enhance decision making within agricultural sectors of society. Discovering information that various stakeh olders need in order to make informed decisions. RPA 2: Within and among societie s, aid the public in effectively participating in public decisionmaking about high priority agricultural issues. Identifying, assimilating, disseminating, form atting and evaluating relevant information that facilitates public decision-making a bout high priority agricultural issues. RPA 3: Build competitive societal kn owledge and intellectual capabilities Understanding how information and media deliv ery affect thinking processes, problem solving, and decision making related to agriculture Recommendations Recommendations for future research and practi ce are provided as a result of assessing the organizational credibility of agricultural organizations as well as the factors that influence message dissemination. 110

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Recommendations for Practice Organizations with established memberships should survey their members in order to assess the organizations credibility as perceived by the membership. Organizations should review the constructs that comprise cred ibility and work to ensure that the messages the organization is di sseminating meets the construct criteria. Organizations should offer advocacy workshops to their members in order to educate them about the importance of credib ility and inform them of the constructs that make up credibility. Florida agricultural organizations should strive to add more balance to the information that they distribute. Organizations should seek media input fr om sources outside of the agriculture industry in order to present we ll-rounded information to those individuals working within the agricultural industry. Identify those individuals within organizati onal membership who are strong extroverts and work to ensure that they can agree on the organizations stance on issues. Organizations that are focuse d on research and education (ex. UF/IFAS) should work to improve their trustworthy cons tructs on the credibility scale. This could be done by allowing more personal contact between university faculty an d opinion leaders. Recommendations for Future Research Research should be done to understand the phe nomenon behind why women appear to give more credence to organizations than do men. Additionally, further research could explain which credibility constructs an organization should possess in order to be seen credible by the different genders. A qualitative study should be done with Florid a opinion leaders to uncover any additional credibility constructs that could add to the overall perceptions of organizational credibility and were not used in this study. Research should be done to determine if diffe rent types of organiza tions have different credibility expectations. For example, are some credibility constructs more important than others depending upon the organization disseminating the message (universities v. government agencies)? A qualitative study should be conducted to identify the most prevalent issues within the agriculture industry and determ ine if organizational credib ility differs depending on the issue at hand. Research should be done that explores whet her the communication ch annel (i.e Internet, print, face-to-face) affects the organizations credibility. 111

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Research should be done that further inves tigates how personalit y type influences organizational credibility assessment. Res earch should assess the best method for increasing organizational credibility among introverts and extroverts. For exampleextroverts may find the organization credible simply as a means to draw attention to themselves; while, introverts may find the organization more credible if they have had a say in crafting the message. Summary Chapter 5 began by reviewing the purpose and obj ectives of this study. Then summaries of findings for each of the four objectives were pr ovided. Next, conclusions were drawn from the data presented in Chapter 4. These conclusions were discussed and compared to previous literature. Additionally, Chapter 5 demonstrated how the conclusions helped to advance the National Research Agenda for Agricultu re Education and Communication. Finally, recommendations for practice and future research were offered. 112

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APPENDIX A INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL 113

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APPENDIX B SURVEY COMPLETION REQUESTS Pre-Survey E-Mail Dear Wedgworth Leadership Institute Alumni: I am a current masters student at the University of Florida. For my thesis research, I have been working closely with Dr. Hannah Carter to determine the credibility of Floridas agricultural organizations. We, along with my adviso ry committee, have determined that the best method of measuring agricultural organizational credibility is to survey agricultural opinion leaders within the state. Because of your invol vement in the Florida agricultural and natural resource industry, and your participation as a class member of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute, each of you have been identifi ed as Florida agriculture opinion leader. In the next week, you will be receiving an email from the Wedgworth Institute with a link to the survey in order for you to complete the instrument online. Pl ease feel free to contact me at ccw@ufl.edu if you have any questions regarding the survey. I have sent this e-mail via the Wedgworth Alumni list-serv and if you would pref er I send e-mails to another address, please respond to me with your preferred e-mail address. Your participation is greatly appreciated and completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. If you choose to participate, you will answer items on a confidential assessment that will take approximately 10 -15 minutes to complete. You can stop any time without penalty and you do not have to answer any question yo u do not wish to answer. All answers are confidential to the exte nt provided by law. There are no know n risks or other direct benefits associated with this study. If you would like to learn more about this project, please contact me at 408 Rolfs Hall, Gainesville campus, 352-392-1 038 or Dr. Nicole Stedman, 217B Rolfs Hall, Gainesville campus, 352-392-0502 ext. 247, nstedm an@ufl.edu. If you have questions about your rights as a research part icipant, please contact the UF IRB Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611-2250, 352-392-0433. Once again, your participation in completi ng the following assessments is greatly appreciated. You are helping to develop a bett er understanding for orga nizational credibility within the agricultural industr y in the state of Florida. Thank you, Christy Windham Dr. Nicole Stedman Dr. Hannah Carter Graduate Assistant Assist ant Professor Director Department of Agriculture Department of Agriculture Wedgworth Leadership Institute Education & Communication Education & Communication 114

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Initial Contact Email Dear Wedgworth Leadership Institute Alumni Member: As you know from my previous e-mail, my th esis research revolve s around measuring the credibility of Florida agricultural organiza tions. Below you will find the link for the survey instrument, along with the password you will need to access the instrument. The survey instrument should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. Please feel free to contact me at ccw@ufl.edu if you have any questions regarding the survey. Once again, your participation in completing the assessment is greatly appreciated. You are helping to develop a better understanding of the credibility percep tions of agriculture organizations within the state. Link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=5GrLEdDxiapUlqGc_2f_2f0TPA_3d_3d Password: XXX Thank you, Christy Windham Dr. Nicole Stedman Dr. Hannah Carter Graduate Assistant Assist ant Professor Director Department of Agriculture Department of Agriculture Wedgworth Leadership Institute Education & Communication Education & Communication 115

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Follow-Up Contact Email Dear Wedgworth Leadership Institute Alumni Member: I wanted to take this opportuni ty to thank you for participating in my research and encourage you to complete the survey instrument if you have not already done so. It is not my intention to continue to bombard you with e-mails but it is part of the research design that I must adhere to in order for my research to be deemed valid. Below you will find the link for the Florida agri culture organizational credibility survey instrument. In addition, there is also a password that must be us ed when logging in. Please feel free to contact me if you have a ny questions regarding the survey. Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=5GrLEdDxiapUlqGc_2f_2f0TPA_3d_3d Password: XXX Once again, your participation in completing the following survey is greatly appreciated. You are helping to develop a better understanding of the credibility perceptions of agriculture organizations within the state. Thank you, Christy Windham Dr. Nicole Stedman Dr. Hannah Carter Graduate Assistant Assist ant Professor Director Department of Agriculture Department of Agriculture Wedgworth Leadership Institute Education & Communication Education & Communication 116

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Final Follow-Up Contact Email Dear Wedgworth Leadership Institute Alumni Member: I wanted to take this opportunity to encour age you to complete the Florida Organizational Credibility Survey if you have not already done so. It is not my intention to continue to bombard you with e-mails, but it is part of the research design that I must adhere to in order for my research to be deemed valid. Below you will find the link for the Florida agri culture organizational credibility survey instrument. In addition, there is also password that must be used when logging in. Please feel free to contact me if you have a ny questions regarding the survey. Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=5GrLEdDxiapUlqGc_2f_2f0TPA_3d_3d Password: XXX Once again, your participation in co mpleting the following survey is greatly appreciated. You are helping to develop a better understanding of the credibility perceptions of agriculture organizations within the state. Thank you, Christy Windham Dr. Nicole Stedman Dr. Hannah Carter Graduate Assistant Assist ant Professor Director Department of Agriculture Department of Agriculture Wedgworth Leadership Institute Education & Communication Education & Communication 117

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LIST OF REFERENCES Adler, P. S., & Kwon, S. (2002). Social captial: Prospects for a new concept. The Academy of Management Review, 27(1), 17-40. Agresti, A., & Finlay, B. (1997). Statistical methods for the social sciences (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Aronson, E., Turner, J. A., & Carlsmith, J. M. (1963). Communicator credibility and communication discrepancy as determinants of opinion change. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Pyschology, 67(1), 31-36. Ary, Jacobs, Razavieh, & Sorenso. (2006). Intr oduction to research in education (7th ed). Thomson Wadsworth. Bayles, T. (2007, Drought taking toll on Florid as agriculture. [Electronic version]. Herald Tribune. Retrieved April 4, 2008 from http://www.heraldtribune.com/ar ticle/20071208/BUSINESS/712080565/-1/RSS05 Beckman, M. D. (1967). Are your messages getting through? Journal of Marketing, 31(3), 34-38. Berlo, D. K., Lemert, J. B., & Mertz, R. J. (1970) Dimensions for evaluating the acceptability of message sources. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 33(4), 563-576. Brick-Turin, C. (2007). Immigration reformation. Citrus & Vegetable, June 18,2008. Bouffard, K. (2008). UF president denies saying Fla. Agricult ure dying. [Electronic version]. The Ledger Retrieved April 4, 2008, from http://www.theledger.com/ article/20080212/NEWS/802120407/1039 Burt, R. S. (1999). The social capital of opinion leaders. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 566(The Social Diffusion of Ideas and Things), 37-54. Campbell, D.T., & Stanley, J.C. (1966). Experimental and quasi-exp erimental designs for research. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Chan, K. K., & Misra, S. (1990). Character istics of the opinion leader: A new dimension. Journal of Advertising, 19(3), 53-60. Cook, C., Heath, F., & Thompson, R.L. (2000). A meta-analysis of response rates in webor internet-based surveys. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 60 821-836. Corey, L. G. (1971). People who claim to be opini on leaders: Identifying their characteristics by self-report. Journal of Marketing, 35(4), 48-53. Dillman, D. A. (2006). Mail and Internet Surveys: The Ta ilored Design Method 2007 Update with New Internet, Visual, and Mixed-Mode Guide Wiley. 125

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Erdem, T., & Swait, J. (2004). Brand cred ibility, brand consideration, and choice. Journal of Consumer Research, 31(1), 191-198. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. (2007). Florida Agriculture Statistical Directory. Tallahassee, FL Frewer, L., Howard, C., & Shepherd, R. (1998). The influence of initial attitudes on responses to ommunication about genetic e ngineering in food production. Agriculture and Human Values 15(1), 15-30. Greer, T., Holinga, D., Kindel, C ., Netznik, M. (1999). An educator s guide to credibility and web evaluation. (J. Brown, K. Hick ey, V. Pozen revised 2002). Retrieved April 13, 2008 from http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/wp/credibility/ Gottwald, T. R., Graham, J. H., & Schubert, T. S. (2002). Citrus canker: The pathogen and its impact. APSnet, June 17, 2008. Haley, E. (1996). Exploring the construct of orga nization as source: cons umers understandings of organizational sponsorship of advocacy advertising. Journal of Advertising, 15(2), 1935. Healy, P. D. (2005). Believe it: The media's cr edibility headache gets worse. [Electronic version]. The New York Times. Retrieved June 20, 2008 from http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/22/weekinreview/22healy.html Hovland, C. I., Janis, I. L., & Kelley, H. K. (1953). Communication and persuasion. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. Kelman, H. C., & Eagly, A. H. (1965). Atti tude toward the communicator, perception of communication content, and attitude change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1(1), 63-78. Lazarsfeld, P., Berelson, B., & Gaudet, H. (1948). The people's choice (2nd ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. Lee, J. (2004), Lost fruit in central Florida m eans lost jobs for migrants. [Electronic version]. The New York Times, pp. 22. Retrieved June 20, 2008 from http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9 D07EFDC1530F933A2575AC0A9629C 8B63&sec=&spon= Leonard-Barton, D. (1985). Experts as negative opinion leaders in the diffusion of a technological innovation. The Journal of Consumer Research, 11(4), 914-926. Lindner, J. R., Murphy, T. H., & Briers, G. E. (2001). The handli ng of nonresponse in agricultural education. Journal of Agricultural Education, 42(4), 43-53. 126

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Ludwig, B.G. (1994). Global issues: Identifying existing att itudes of agricultural and metropolitan leaders. Journal of International Agricu ltural and Extension Education, 1(1), 7-15. Lui, L., & Standing, L. (1989). Communication cred ibility: Trustworthiness defeats expertness. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 17(2; 2), 219-221. Manis, M. (1961). The interpretation of opinion statements as a function of recipient attitude and source prestige. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 63(1), 82-86. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. (2008) Source. Retrieved April 13, 2008 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/source Miller, L. E. (1994). Correlati ons: Description or inference? Journal of Agricultural Education, 35(1), 5-7. Newell, S.J., & Goldsmith, R.E. (2001). The deve lopment of a scale to measure perceived corporate credibility. Journal of Business Research 52, 235 OKeefe, Daniel J. (1990), Persuasion: Theory and Research, Sage Publications, Newbery Park, California. Osborne, E. W. (Ed.) (n.d.). National research agenda: Agricultural education and communication, 2007. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida, Department of Agricultural Educati on and Communication. Page, B. I., Shapiro, R. Y., & Dempsey, G. R. (1987). What moves public opinion? The American Political Science Review, 81(1), 23-44. Parker, G., & Farmer, S. (2008). Proposed plans by University of Floridas president could cripple IFAS, Extension, and 4H possibly starting as early as Ma rch 2008! [Electronic version]. Farm & Ranch News, 34(1). Retrieved April 4, 2008, from http://www.farmandranchnews.com/breakingnewsframe.html Robinson, J. P. (1976). Interpersonal influence in election campaigns: Two step-flow hypotheses. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 40(3), 304-319. Rogers, E. M., & Cartano, D. G. (1962). Methods of measuring opinion leadership. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 26(3), 435-441. Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York, NY: Free Press Ruth, A., & Lundy, L. (2004). Reaching florida ur ban opinion leaders: Un covering preferred communication channels. Journal of Applied Communications, 88(4), 7-21. Ruth, A. (2005). Sources of agricultural news : the media relations envi ronment of agricultural communication professionals. Doctoral dissertation, University of Florida. 127

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Santos, J.R.A. (1999). Cronbachs alpha: A tool for assessing the reliability of scales. Journal of Extension, 37(2). Scheufele, D. A., & Shah, D. V. (2000). Personality strength a nd social capital: The role of dispositional and informational variables in the production of civic participation. Communication Research, 27(2), 107-131. Severin, W.J., & Tankard, J.W.(2001). Communication theories (5th ed.). New York: Addison Wesley Longman Sternthal, B., Phillips, L. W., & Dholakia, R. (1978). The persuasi ve effect of s ource credibility: A situational analysis. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 42(3), 285-314. Strickland, L. R. (2008). Relationship between emotional intelligence and leade rship style of leaders in Florida agricultu re [electronic resource] Gainesville, Fla.: University of Florida. Troldahl, V. C. (1966). A field test of a modified "two-step flow of communication" model. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 30(4), 609-623. Underwood, M. (2003). Communication studies, cultural studies, media studies infobase. Retrieved April 5, 2008, 2008, from http://www.cultsock.ndirect.co.uk/MUHome/cshtml/index.html U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2008). Common questions about migrant/farmworkers. Retrieved June/18, 2008, from www.hud.gov Valente, T. W., & Davis, R. L. (1999). Acceler ating the diffusion of i nnovations using opinion leaders. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 566(The Social Diffusion of Ideas and Things), 55-67 Valente, T. W., Poppe, P. R., & Merritt, A. P. (1996). Mass-media-gener ated interpersonal communication as sources of information about family planning. Journal of Health Communication, 1(3), 247-266 Weimann, G. (1982). On the importance of marginality: One more step into th e two-step flow of communication. American Sociolog ical Review, 47(6), 764-773. Woods, C. (2008). Florida's ag economy thriving. Southeast Farm Press, June 17, 2008. Zwick, Paul D., Carr, Margaret H. (2006). Flor ida 2060 A population distribution scenario for the state of Florida. 1000 Friends of Florida, June 17, 2008. 128

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129 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Christy Claire Windham was born in Laurel, Mississippi. She graduated from Northeast Jones High School in May of 2002. Following high school graduation, she served as Mississippis FFA State President and completed ten-month internship at the Mississippi Department of Agriculture in Jackson, Mississippi. Upon completion of the Department of Agri culture internship, Mi ss Windham was elected as an officer for the National FFA Organizati on in 2003. During this year of service to the National FFA Organization, Miss Windham traveled to approximately 40 states and visited thousands of FFA members prom oting agriculture e ducation, FFA, leadership and personal development. In December, 2005, Miss Windham graduated from Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi with her associates of the arts degree. In August, 2007, Miss Windham earned her undergraduate degree fr om the University of Florida in agricultural education and communication with minors in leadership a nd agricultural and natural resource law. In August, 2007, Miss Windham entered the graduate department in the Department of Agricultural Education and Commun ication at the University of Fl orida where she specialized in agricultural communication. During her time in the graduate program at the University of Florida, she served as a graduate teaching assistant as well as an assistant to the director of student development for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.