Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2108115
 


 



Political Cynicism and Negative Campaigns: Does One Make the Other More Effective?


Stephen Craig


Morgan Stanley

Paulina Rippere


Jacksonville University

2012

APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper

Abstract:     
Despite the lingering suspicions of many Americans, there is little evidence to support the notion that increased negativity in campaign politics has contributed to the erosion of public trust in government over the past few decades. In this paper, we use data from a controlled experiment to look at the relationship between negative campaigning and political trust in a different light. The so-called “figure-ground hypothesis” suggests that one reason why negative information is (sometimes) more effective than positive information in shaping people’s perceptions and behavior is because the former tends to “stand out” in a world where most of us have positive expectations of others – including public figures, if not always politicians as a class. Accordingly, we would expect that negative campaign ads are most effective (in terms of shaping citizens’ vote preferences and candidate evaluations) among those who express a high level of trust in their political leaders. The catch, of course, is that high levels of trust are relatively uncommon in contemporary U.S. politics, in which case negative appeals presumably play to a smaller audience than many candidates and consultants seem to believe. In fact, our data provide only limited support for the figure-ground hypotheses and show instead that a well-conceived negative campaign ad can influence the choices of voters regardless of their underlying feelings about government.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 42

working papers series


Download This Paper

Date posted: July 15, 2012 ; Last revised: August 16, 2012

Suggested Citation

Craig, Stephen and Rippere, Paulina, Political Cynicism and Negative Campaigns: Does One Make the Other More Effective? (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2108115

Contact Information

Stephen Craig (Contact Author)
Morgan Stanley ( email )
1585 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
United States
Paulina S Rippere
Jacksonville University ( email )
2800 University Blvd. N.
Jacksonville, FL 32211
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 691
Downloads: 98
Download Rank: 158,496

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo4 in 1.172 seconds