Despite the frequent controversies in sport, little research has been conducted to understand sport consumers' emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reactions to athlete scandals. Drawing from attribution and expectancy–violation theories, this study examines the effects of athlete scandals on emotion (i.e. anger), cognition (i.e. perceived responsibility), and behavioral intention (i.e. negative word-of-mouth; NWOM). The results of an experiment showed that selected characteristics of athlete scandals (i.e. intentionality and performance relatedness) influence NWOM via perceived responsibility. The impact of perceived responsibility that is associated with NWOM intention was critical, while that associated with anger was much less crucial. This study contributes to the existing body of literature in the context of athlete scandals. When minimizing the negative impact is the main concern, managers must contemplate the effects of performance relatedness and intentionality of athlete scandals, and effectively communicate with spectators to reduce the perceived responsibility.
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