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impact of negative campaign ads

Published on: August 5 2023 by pipiads

INTRO

These days politics might seem dirty with candidates dragging each other down in an attempt to rise to the top. But political mudslinging is not new. It's been around for ages, there's just one big difference now. Thanks to social media, politicians can step up their negative campaigns with subtle tactics that may be even better at influencing us. And that can feel disconcerting. But fortunately, the better you understand what's happening, the better you can avoid being influenced.

Now, there's a reason politicians sling insults at each other in the first place. Negative messages stick. They embed themselves in our brains better than positive ones. That's because we have a tendency called the negativity bias. Our brains are more likely to notice, respond to, and be influenced by negative things. And yeah, this is maybe frustrating. But it's likely a survival mechanism. Negative stimuli can be life-threatening, so we evolved to focus more on the bad stuff.

Unfortunately, lots of campaigning tools take advantage of this. One of the most common tactics is the good old-fashioned attack ad. You know, political ads on the internet or TV that attack candidates as incompetent, hypocritical, or dangerous. These have been around for decades, of course, but they're becoming increasingly common. Like during the U.S. presidential campaign in 1960, only 10 percent of televised ads were negative. During the 2012 campaign, only 14 percent were positive.

Oddly enough, studies have shown that these ads aren't that good for changing how people vote. But although the evidence is mixed on this, one thing they may do is influence whether or not people go to the polls. And that can play out in a couple of ways. For instance, a 2014 study found that when negative ads were aired early in a campaign, they mobilized voters to go to the polls. The author speculated that at this point in an election, negative ads may actually help people make a decision about a candidate and give them the confidence to go vote.

On the other hand, when negative ads were shown later in a campaign, people were overall less likely to vote, possibly because negative ads wore away at their confidence in their preferred candidate. And although the ads probably didn't change a lot of votes, influencing turnout can be a very big deal. Like if an ad gets your supporters to hit the polls on Election Day or gets your opponent's supporters to sit out the election, that is a successful ad.

But attack ads can also flop. And a major reason they can fail is because different people have various beliefs and personalities. So, a message that resonates with one person could totally fall flat with another. That's why organizations came up with a tactic called psychographic targeting. The general premise here grew out of demographic targeting, which has been used in both marketing and campaigning for a long time.

Basically, the goal of that is to calibrate messages to people's demographics, things like age, gender, ethnicity, and education level. Psychographic targeting, on the other hand, is microtargeting based on personality traits. Traditionally, marketers and campaigns have used psychographics to make guesses about broad personality characteristics based on where people live or the TV program they're watching.

For instance, they could make some generalizations about a given population based on what percentage of people were tuned in to football versus, say, Iron Chef. And they could use those conclusions to target their ads to the populations most likely to buy certain products. But now, using social media, they're not just broadly targeting certain populations, organizations can target an ad to an individual based on that person's online behavior. And it's easier than you might think.

In a 2013 study of 58,000 people, researchers found that they could summarize a person's key personality traits based entirely on their Facebook likes. For instance, they found that they could reasonably predict participants' level of openness based on whether they liked Plato, the philosopher, or the I don't read page. So, not a huge surprise there that you can predict openness based on whether someone liked I don't read. But this is huge for organizations looking to create microtargeted ads because personality traits like openness are strong predictors of political ideology.

Political campaigns began using psychographic data gleaned from social media during dozens of elections in 2014. But the method played a more notorious role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election when a company called Cambridge Analytica harvested information from millions of Facebook profiles and used it to develop dozens of microtargeted political ads. Researchers don't know what effect these ads had on the 2016 election. And Cambridge Analytica is no longer in business, but psychographic targeting is still used by other companies.

And with so much of our lives taking place online, we're more and more susceptible to this kind of targeting. Fortunately, if you want to shield yourself from being manipulated this way, there are a few things you can do. For one, you can check out your social media settings to make sure you're not sharing personal information with advertisers and other organizations. That may not solve the whole problem.

But when you see headlines or ads that appear to demonize a candidate, you can do some research, like check if that source is credible and see what other reliable sources are saying. That can help you figure out if what you've seen is true and informative or if it is misleading or even deliberate misinformation. Taking that extra step, being aware of our negativity bias and researching candidates' specific policies can help you make sure you're thinking and voting as independently as possible.

Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow. And if you want to learn more about the psychology of voting, you can head over to our psych channel and check out our video on how politicians are never just asking questions.

OUTRO

Impact of negative political ads: student research presentation

Okay everyone, the research project is about coeds and young voters' voting intentions. We know that political advertising is a dominant media format during election campaigns, and candidates invest a lot of money and energy into producing political ads. These ads have outperformed other types of media, like debates and news, and have become a primary source of information for young voters. In this study, we aim to examine how political ads influence the voting intentions of young voters and whether there is a significant impact.

To explore this, we will use the gender setting theory as our basic framework. This theory suggests that individuals assess information differently depending on their gender, and that the media plays a crucial role in shaping their perceptions. Numerous studies have been conducted on print ads, uncovering various facts. One such fact is the demobilization effect, which states that negative advertising decreases voter turnout. Conversely, there is also the stimulation effect, which suggests that negative advertising increases voter intention. Lastly, there is the argument that political ads have no influence on voting intentions at all.

To delve deeper into this topic, we will focus on the mediation process, specifically information efficacy, cynicism, and gratifications, as potential factors that may influence the effectiveness of political advertising on young voters' intentions. Our research questions will investigate the relationship between political ads and information efficacy, cynicism, and gratifications, as well as the relationship between voting intentions and information efficacy, cynicism, and gratifications.

To conduct our study, we will use a 2x2 factorial experiment design with a post-test only. The independent variables will be the tone of the ads (positive or negative) and the presentation of the candidate on issues and personal attributes. There will be four experimental cells and one control cell. Our participants will be undergraduates, with an average age of 21.3, and a majority being males (70.6%) and females (82.5%). The experimental cells will be exposed to different types of ads from the same candidate in a state-level election.

In terms of our instrument, we will utilize scales that have been used in previous studies. Factor analysis will be conducted to determine the components of each scale. We will assess participants' reasons for watching political ads, as well as their reasons for avoiding them. Additionally, we will measure their trust in politicians, understanding of politics, and voting preconceptions.

Preliminary results from our study show no significant influence of print ads on young voters' intentions. However, there is a positive correlation between critical information advocacy and vote intentions, as well as a negative correlation between political cynicism and vote intentions. No significant difference was found in the relationship between gratification and vote intentions.

It is important to note that our study has several limitations. Firstly, the sample size is relatively small, with only 156 participants. Additionally, there is an imbalance within the sample in terms of gender representation. Secondly, data collection was conducted close to the National Action day and early voting period, which may have influenced participants' decision-making. Lastly, the use of ads from the same candidate in a state-level election may have limited personal involvement and, therefore, participants' susceptibility to influence.

Despite these limitations, our study has uncovered some interesting findings. Males exhibited higher political information efficacy and were less likely to avoid watching political ads compared to females. Additionally, participants who viewed candidate Mitt Romney more favorably were more likely to vote. These findings may be related to gender differences in information processing and local political culture.

In future research, it would be beneficial to focus on mediation processes such as commission bias and explore other moderators like gender and preconceptions. Understanding how these factors influence the effectiveness of political ads on young voters' intentions will provide valuable insights for future election campaigns.

Thank you for your attention.

Negative vs Positive political advertising:

Hello everyone! I'm Dr. Andrew Hughes from the ANU, and today I want to talk about my research on why negative political advertising doesn't work. Before we dive into that, let's take a look at an ad that actually does work and grabs our attention right from the start. This ad is called Ryanville, and it's a car commercial from the US Superbowl this year. It's a fantastic example of an effective ad. It features a celebrity, fast-paced music, and it's just enjoyable to watch. The key to effective advertising is making sure that viewers actually enjoy watching the ad because that means they like it and are more likely to remember the brand and its message. Ryanville is a perfect example of this.

Now that we've seen an ad that works, let's take a look at one that doesn't work - a political ad. This particular ad is from Bill Shorten during this year's campaign. Right off the bat, we see Bill Shorten, and our attitude towards politicians isn't exactly favorable. Then we have all these words on the screen, and even though it's a short ad, there's a lot of content for us to remember and engage with. But let's be honest, we tend to switch off when it comes to political ads. So, even though this ad is positive, my research shows that it still fails to grab our attention and make us recall the message effectively.

Now, let's move on to another example - an ad from Malcolm Turnbull. He's the Prime Minister, so you would think he should be able to capture our attention right from the start. However, he's also a politician, and we're a bit tired of political campaigns at the moment. The real issue with this ad is the overwhelming number of words on the screen. They want us to remember and engage with these words, but our negative attitude towards the ad prevents us from doing so. In the end, all these words become a waste because we simply don't remember them, as my research found.

Now, let's take a look at an ad that actually works. This political ad was the most liked and recalled message among all the ones I studied. Take a look at it. The words on the screen are simple and easy to read, and they appear at a slow pace, giving us time to engage with them. What's even more interesting is that this ad wasn't even made by a political party. It was made by an advertising agency for a TV show. When advertising agencies are given the freedom to be creative, they can come up with engaging ads like this one. It's positive, has nice music, and keeps us hooked until the end. It even has nearly 40,000 views on YouTube, compared to just a couple of hundred for the other ads I showed you. This clearly shows that the market speaks, and as marketers and advertisers, we need to engage with our audience.

Now, let's address an important question - can negative advertising ever be effective? Can it grab our attention and deliver the desired message? It's a good question, and the answer is yes, but there's a catch. Humor can take the edge off the negative message and make it more watchable. We tend to watch these ads because they're funny and amusing, but at the same time, we don't necessarily like the message because it's still negative and coming from a politician. So, even though we engage with the message to some extent and can recall parts of the ad, what we remember the most is how much we hate these negative ads. In a way, these ads turn people off the message and politics in general, as my research found.

But wait, is there someone in politics who believes and supports my findings? Yes, there is! Sam Dastyari from the Labor party agrees that negative ads don't work. Just listen to what these kids have to say about negative ads. Kids are always honest, right? They clearly don't like the negative ad, and Sam agrees with them.

In conclusion, my research shows that negative political ads are not effective. Viewers tend to switch off from these ads and have a negative attitude towards them, which hinders message recall. On the other hand, positive and engaging ads, like the one I showed you, have a much better chance of capturing and retaining viewers' attention. So, as marketers and advertisers, we need to focus on creating ads that viewers actually enjoy watching. For more information, please visit our website. Thank you for listening, and I hope you found this both enjoyable and interesting.

Why political parties run attack ads even if you don’t like them

Negative advertising is a common occurrence during Canadian elections. These ads, put out by political parties or third parties, are often disliked by the public. However, research suggests that negative campaigning can have a damaging effect on political efficacy and trust in government. Despite this, parties continue to run negative ads due to the significant role advertising plays in a campaign's budget.

Why Negative Ads are Used:

Advertising accounts for 50% of a campaign's budget, making it a crucial aspect of winning over voters. Parties spend millions of dollars on different types of ads, including positive ones that outline their plans, contrast ads that compare their plans to their opponent's, and negative ads that criticize their opponent. Negative ads, when done well, can change people's perceptions and opinions on important issues.

What Makes a Negative Ad Effective:

Effective negative ads spark an emotional response, introduce new information, and exhibit creativity. However, the golden rule for all negative ads is that they must be rooted in truth to be effective. Ads that make false claims or are disprovable will not resonate with voters. For example, an ad on Justin Trudeau in 2015, which was not rooted in truth, did not work as intended.

The Risk of Backfiring:

Not all negative ads hit the mark and can risk backfiring. Personal attacks and attack ads focusing on physical appearance are generally seen as inappropriate and ineffective. These types of ads can damage a campaign's credibility and may be viewed as unfair or cheap. An attack ad on Jean Chrétien in 1993, which mocked his partial facial paralysis, was widely criticized and ultimately scrapped by the campaign.

Debate on Effectiveness:

The effectiveness of negative ads remains a subject of debate among researchers. While some studies suggest that negative campaigning is not an effective means of winning votes, others show that negative ads generate heightened attention levels compared to positive or mixed messages. However, participants often express resistance to being persuaded by negative ad campaigns.

The Value of Negative Ads:

Despite the debate, negative ads provide voters with information they may not have otherwise considered. They allow voters to consider both positive and negative information, leading to a more informed decision-making process.

Negative advertising continues to play a significant role in Canadian elections. While disliked by the public, these ads are a crucial aspect of campaign strategies. Effective negative ads can change perceptions and opinions, but they must be rooted in truth to be successful. The debate on their effectiveness continues, but negative ads provide voters with information that they may not have otherwise encountered.

Next Question: Do negative political ads work?

Do negative political ads really work? It's a question that many viewers have asked, and it's one that deserves some investigation. Negative ads are those that use harsh voices, ominous sound effects, and often attack the opponent rather than focusing on the candidate's own qualities. But do these ads actually sway voters?

David Flaherty, from conservative polling firm Magellan Strategies, believes that negative ads can be effective in changing voter opinion. In his experience working for the Republican National Committee, he found that negative ads were helpful in slowing down an opponent's momentum. This suggests that negative ads can have an impact on voters and potentially influence their decisions.

However, not all negative ads are created equal. Some ads, like those on behalf of Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer in the 8th congressional district, take a unique approach. Instead of attacking her opponent directly, these ads feature images of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and President Biden. The goal is to associate Kirkmeyer's opponent with these unpopular figures, which may resonate with voters who have negative opinions of them.

Another example is a negative ad paid for by Democratic senator Michael Bennett. The ad starts with an odd first line: Joe O'Day is the perfect candidate according to Mitch McConnell. This is not an endorsement of O'Day by McConnell, but rather a clever tactic to draw attention to a connection between the two. The assumption is that voters who dislike McConnell will also have negative opinions of O'Day.

These ads demonstrate that negative campaigning can be strategic and targeted. They rely on the assumption that viewers are familiar with the figures mentioned and already hold unfavorable opinions of them. By making these connections, the ads aim to create a negative association in the minds of voters.

So, do negative ads work? The answer seems to be yes. If they didn't, campaigns wouldn't spend millions of dollars on them. Negative ads may not change every voter's opinion, but they have the potential to influence undecided or persuadable voters. It's a fleeting message that campaigns hope will stick in the minds of viewers, even if it's just a small association that they remember on election day.

In conclusion, negative political ads can have an impact on voter opinion. They can slow down an opponent's momentum and create negative associations in the minds of viewers. While they may not be popular or well-liked, negative ads are a strategic tool used by campaigns to sway undecided voters. So the next time you see a negative ad, remember that there's a reason behind it, and it's not just to annoy you.

Impact of negative campaigning on US election

- In this article, we will discuss the negative campaigning in American politics and its impact on the current election.

- We will also touch upon the distinction between ads run by super PACs and the ads run by the candidates themselves.

Negative Campaigning in American Politics:

- Negative campaigning is not a new phenomenon in American politics.

- Historical examples, such as the Jefferson-Adams election, show that name-calling and negative ads have been prevalent from the early days of the Republic.

- While this year's election may have its share of negative ads, it is not necessarily worse than previous years.

- Negative ads have been shown to be effective in influencing voter opinions.

Distinction Between Super PAC Ads and Candidate Ads:

- Super PACs run scathing ads that make wild suggestions about the opposing candidate.

- Official candidate ads, on the other hand, come with the endorsement of the candidate.

- The campaigns try to differentiate between the two types of ads, but they ultimately serve the same purpose of influencing voters.

- Both types of ads contribute to the lack of substantial discussion on real issues.

The Need for Real Discussion on Policies and Politics:

- Instead of focusing on negative ads, the American people should be having meaningful conversations about policies and politics.

- The United States is facing economic challenges and critical decisions on foreign policy.

- It is unfortunate that these important issues are being overshadowed by sentimental rhetoric from political conventions.

- The world's leading superpower should have an election that prioritizes open and mature discussions on policies and politics.

- Negative campaigning has long been a part of American politics, but it is not necessarily worse in the current election.

- Both super PAC ads and candidate ads contribute to the lack of substantive discussions on real issues.

- It is crucial for the American people to focus on policies and politics instead of being swayed by negative ads.

- The United States should have an election that allows for open and mature discussions on the future of the country.

Negative campaigning: A cross-national perspective

Thanks for having me. I'm delighted to be here today and have an opportunity to present my work. This is part of a bigger project and my slides are not working properly, so we switch to PDFs and I won't have the same dramatic effect of things scrolling and flying on the screen, but it's all good. This is a bigger project on song campaigns. When I present this in the United States, I usually have to answer this first question, which is why would anyone study campaigns in the U.S.? Because the big debate in the American literature is do campaigns even matter? Even this last presidential election, though closely followed by the media, political scientists were calling it as early as May and even April. Some of the early predictions down to the state and the electoral college vote. Even if you believe that about the U.S., campaigns matter and they matter a lot. In a lot of these places, campaign periods are very short. Partisanship is a lot weaker. Your decision about who to vote for can be much more complicated outside the United States. Even if you don't like any of these reasons, campaigns have this important purpose for democracy, which is the moment when politicians are accountable to the electorate. It's the moment when they communicate directly. It is the essence of democracy. I'm engaged in a large research agenda studying political campaigns across primarily Latin America. There are two broad questions. The first one is about what kinds of information do politicians provide. The second thing is how does it affect voters? Does it affect participation, trust, learning information? Does it make for better voting? I'm doing this in Latin America primarily through a study of campaign messages to study the kinds of information that's being provided. Then doing some experimental and survey work on voters to see how they are affected by different types of messages. Today, however, you're just going to get one small piece of this, which is I'm going to show you a game theoretic model of campaign tone. It's a theoretical framework to explain why candidates attack each other in some environments and do not in others. I'm going to test it with campaign messages from 14 different countries and with candidates operating under a variety of different electoral systems. I'll show you a couple of campaign ads if the computer does cooperate. So, I'll proceed with just three steps. The first is I'm going to go through a game theoretical model briefly and talk about the kinds of implications and predictions it makes. I'm going to give you two applications of it to formal quantitative tests and then I'll give you an overview of the other parts of the project. How does this affect voters? How does it affect learning and information? How does that why should we care about all this at the end? The model is actually really simple. One of the challenges in putting together one of these models, though, is that all previous game theoretical work on campaigns, especially negative campaigns, with one very small exception, it models what happens in a district election where there's two candidates kind of like the United States of America, right? The one exception, they say what if there's a third candidate, right? Okay, so most elections globally, most democracies on the planet do not have single-member district elections with just two candidates, right? So, we need to develop something that we can apply very generally and that's what I've tried to do here. In the model, you can have as many candidates as you want, so you can have m candidates. And before the election, before the campaign starts, each candidate has some valence, and that's their attractiveness or how popular they are, how much support they have from the general population. During the campaign, each candidate simultaneously sends either one positive message that promotes themselves or they can send one negative message to attack any of the other candidates. They just get to send one message. Wouldn't that be nice? What do those messages do? Well, one of the key innovations of the model is that nobody really knows, right? All they know is what happens in expectation. So, a positive message is going to be drawn from a normal distribution with some parameter theta p. A negative is drawn from another normal. And then this is what I call this backfire parameter, which is some cultures, some countries, people don't like negative campaign and they'll actually punish you. The voters will punish you for doing it. We need to restrict these in some way. Another key feature of the model is that negative campaigns are, in expectation, twice as big as positive messages. But because they're repeated in the variance, they're also twice as risky. And then the backfire parameter is basically half the size of a positive campaign. After they send their message, there's some realization of the message effect, and then voters vote for whoever's the most popular in their eyes. The key features of the model again, payoffs here for every candidate, it's going to maximize the probability of victory, which seems fairly reasonable to me. This is obviously a really simple model, doesn't have spatial politics, doesn't have lots of things. It actually works very well across the case that I've studied in Latin America. This might disturb some of you, elections are valence-driven, not spatial. So, elections are essentially a popularity contest. It isn't about left and right. I haven't seen a lot of campaigns in Latin America that had a strong left-right component. I'm going to show you one ad that sort of shows that, but I'm happy to defend this assumption as well as acknowledging its problems. Voters aren't modeled explicitly in this. Some people might not like that as well, but a key feature, again, the key feature here is that campaign effects aren't known. They're sort of risky choices that are only known in expectation. Candidates don't know exactly what the effect of their ad is going to be, right? They run one ad, they run a different ad, and so you saw sort of, for example, the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The Clinton campaign was casting about looking for something that would work, and they obviously didn't find something that would work, right? There's lots of examples of both positive and negative messages that have backfired on candidates. Someone ran a sort of negative message that generated sympathy for that candidate, actually helped them. So, the basic idea, I think, is defensible. By the way, I welcome if you want to interrupt me with questions anytime, whatever the norm is here, that's great. Okay, so this is what the math that comes out of this model if there's just two candidates. And so, these would be the post-campaign valences. Let's consider if candidate one, on the other hand, runs a negative campaign. This is what happens. Candidate one doesn't get the benefit of the positive message and bears a small cost, smaller expectation for going negative because people generally don't like that. Candidate two runs a positive campaign, that's great, but suffers the benefit of the negative message again in expectation. The payoffs become the probability of victory. With just two candidates, it's a really clean normal CDF, a cumulative density function. It's actually really clean. Is that just a backfire of their own negative message or is that the opponent's negative message against them? The N or the B, either one. Okay, so the negative is that the N1 here, that's the damage to candidate two caused by candidate one attacking. She didn't really sell all those brownie or Girl Scout cookies, her mom did it for her, right? Whatever they say. But on the other hand, the B1 here, that's the backfire, the cost of Oh, they're going negative, we don't like that, right? Which could vary both across culture and there are actually some countries which have legal norms against these kinds of things and there can be other penalties for doing this. So, thank you for the question. Just a few technical observations, which I won't get into much. This is really clean with just two candidates. You just use a simple normal standard normal CDF and you get the answers. With more than two candidates and with other kinds of electorals, this gets really, really messy really, really fast. And so, the way I've calculated equilibria that I'm about to show you and all the predictions is through simulations, sort of simulating thousands of campaigns, calculating the probability of victory, and then plugging that into a program that calculates the Nash equilibrium. There's some accuracy cost, there's a speed cost. Just running this for four candidates can take as long as a month. If I were to have

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