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Political activism, racial identity and the commercial endorsement of athletes: Athlete activism.

With a focus on African American male athletes as product endorsers, the purpose of this study was to examine the influence of activism type and level of racial identity on perceptions of trustworthiness and athlete-product fit. Participants (N = 73 White undergraduate students) participated in a 2 (activism type: anti-obesity, anti-war) × 2 (level of racial identity: low, high) experimental study. Results indicate that perceptions of trustworthiness were highest when the athlete was engaged in non-controversial activism and had a strong racial identity. These perceptions were significantly associated with endorser-product (i.e. New Balance shoes) fit, even beyond the effects of activism type, level of racial identity, and athlete attractiveness. Results are discussed in terms of theoretical and practical implications.