Monday, December 17, 2007

Why Negative Campaign Ads Work

A study examines physiological responses to attack ads:

The researchers focused on the preattentative reflex of the eye known as the startle reflex. Those exposed to negative political advertising experienced larger reflex reactions indicating and a desire to move away than when exposed to positive or neutral ad messages.

“This is the very beginning of the fight-or-flight response,” Bradley says. “The body is saying, ‘This is bad.’ So the preattentive reflex is bigger and the body starts preparing to move away.”

But people remember negative ads because the brain finds them arousing, he said. Since viewing the ads isn’t a life-or-death situation, the brain has time to store the messages. Sometimes, the brain can even make up the negative message it only thought it saw.

Although some researchers blame the media and negative political ads for decreasing political participation, Bradley said more research is needed before that can be demonstrated.

That last paragraph is probably written in an academic context involving more clinical evidence and what have you, because some negative advertising is specifically made to decrease political participation among voters. Not all voters can be converted -- and the next best thing to do is to try and make sure those voters don't make it to the polls.


CJ said...

We actually keep mental track of the attack ads on tv and radio, checking facts. The candidate with the most negative ads is the "biggest loser" in our home.

Instead of repulsing us from the polls, we round up the troops (family) and get them down to district to vote.

Negative ads may work well on the sheep but they tick me off.

CJ said...

I've even gone as far as calling the respective campaigns and asking them to stop the negative ads. I want to know what your platform is, not why you think the other guy is bad. It might have more impact if a few more folks to the time to e-mail or call.

My name is CJ and I approve this message.