Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Young Voters Influenced By Negative Political Ads, Says Study

Date:
February 12, 2008
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
An important field study of registered voters aged 18-23 reveals that negative "attack" ads provoke more voter migration than positive ads. Researchers used real advertisements from the 2004 presidential election to show that, although negative political ads are explicitly disliked, they have a powerful impact on voters' mindsets that positive ads do not -- and the potential to change preference and behavior in ways that benefit the advertiser.

In the April issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, an important field study of registered voters aged 18-23 reveals that negative "attack" ads provoke more voter migration than positive ads. Researchers from Notre Dame and the University of Texas at Dallas used real advertisements from the 2004 presidential election to show that, although negative political ads are explicitly disliked, they have a powerful impact on voters' mindsets that positive ads do not -- and the potential to change preference and behavior in ways that benefit the advertiser.

About 77 percent of college-educated 18-24 year olds who were registered cast a vote in the 2004 presidential election, compared to 64 percent of registered voters as a whole. In this presidential election, young voters may have even more of an impact.

Focusing on this segment in the 2004 presidential election, Joan M. Phillips, Joel E. Urbany (both University of Notre Dame), and Thomas J. Reynolds (University of Texas at Dallas) asked participants -- 93 percent of whom said at the time that they would definitely vote in the 2004 presidential election-- to indicate their likelihood of support on a seven point scale: definitely Bush, most likely Bush, leaning toward Bush, undecided, leaning toward Kerry, most likely Kerry, definitely Kerry. The order of the candidates was random.

Participants were then shown one of four political ads, gauged on their perceptions of the ad, and asked to re-report their likelihood of support for a candidate.

The researchers found that, even for a candidate's supporters, an anti-opponent ad was more likely to be deemed less persuasive than a positive pro-candidate ad. However, "the notion that negative ads may be disliked yet influential is paradoxical," the researchers write. Overall, negative advertising prompted more movement along the seven point scale, causing voters to both strengthen their resolve and to move away from the candidate they initially supported.

For example, after viewing an ad that attacked their favored candidate, about 14 percent of the voters "dug in their heels" and indicated stronger support for their favored candidate, who had been the subject of an attack. More importantly, however, the researchers also found that 14 percent of the young voters -- after viewing an ad that attacked their preferred candidate -- were influenced by the ad's content and weakened their support, moving in the direction of the advertising candidate. Viewing positive ads did not lead to significant voter movement.

"These findings parallel marketing studies of both comparative and reference price advertising where consumers report disliking or disbelieving the ads, yet the ads still measurably influence consumer behavior," the researchers explain. "Advertising perceived by voters or consumers as negative carries a potential cost. However, these ads also have the potential to change preference and behavior in ways that benefit the advertiser."

They continue: "We do not conclude that positive political ads are not effective or that negative advertising should be used instead of positive advertising. Rather, our focus is on pointing out that negative advertising has several potential effects."

Journal reference: Joan M. Phillips, Joel E. Urbany, and Thomas J. Reynolds, "Confirmation and the Effects of Valenced Political Advertising: A Field Experiment." Journal of Consumer Research: April 2008.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Young Voters Influenced By Negative Political Ads, Says Study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080212122046.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2008, February 12). Young Voters Influenced By Negative Political Ads, Says Study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080212122046.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Young Voters Influenced By Negative Political Ads, Says Study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080212122046.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stroke in Young Adults

Stroke in Young Adults

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A stroke can happen at any time and affect anyone regardless of age. This mother chose to give her son independence and continue to live a normal life after he had a stroke at 18 years old. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Distracted Adults: ADHD?

Distracted Adults: ADHD?

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Most people don’t realize that ADHD isn’t just for kids. It can affect the work as well as personal lives of many adults, and often times they don’t even know they have it. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Sight and Sounds of Autism

The Sight and Sounds of Autism

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A new study is explaining why for some people with autism what they see and what they hear is out of sync. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experiences Make Us Happy, Even Just Waiting For Them

Experiences Make Us Happy, Even Just Waiting For Them

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) New research finds we get more excited to buy experiences than we do to buy material things. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins