Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Erin Ruppel

Committee Members

Mike Allen, Sang-Yeon Kim, Erik Timmerman


computer mediated communication, impression, sleeper effect, source, valence, warranting theory


Warranting theory asserts that individuals are likely to form impressions of others based on information found online that is not easily manipulated by the target of the information. Because existing literature has found inconsistent support for warranting theory, this dissertation conducted a study of warranting theory both through using traditional warranting theory ideas and through testing the possibility of other variables playing a role in the impression formation process. Participants (N = 330) viewed mock websites with information about a professor and then reported on their impressions of the website and the instructor. About 18 days later, participants completed a delayed questionnaire about their impressions of the instructor. Modeling the first set of hypotheses after traditional tests of warranting theory, this dissertation found support for warranting theory. Other-generated content was associated with higher perceived warranting value than self-generated content; a connection that was assumed, but never explicitly tested in existing literature. The role of perceived warranting value in the relationship between source and impression was partially supported, while support was not found for the weight, or importance, of information within the relationship between source and impression. Over time, impressions converged, consistent with sleeper effect literature.

Included in

Communication Commons