News, Politics, and Negativity

44 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2012

See all articles by Stuart N. Soroka

Stuart N. Soroka

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - College of Literature, Science & the Arts

Stephen McAdams

McGill University - Schulich School of Music - Department of Music Research

Date Written: May 31, 2012

Abstract

Work in political communication has discussed the ongoing predominance of negative news, but has offered few convincing accounts for this focus. A growing body of literature shows that humans regularly pay more attention to negative information than to positive information, however. This paper argues that we should view the nature of news content in part as a consequence of this asymmetry bias observed in human behavior. A psychophysiological experiment capturing viewers' reactions to actual news content shows that negative news elicits stronger and more sustained reactions than does positive news. Results are discussed as they pertain to political behavior and communication, and to politics and political institutions more generally

Keywords: negativity bias, mass media, political communication, psychophysiology

Suggested Citation

Soroka, Stuart N. and McAdams, Stephen, News, Politics, and Negativity (May 31, 2012). CIRANO - Scientific Publications 2012s-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2075941 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2075941

Stuart N. Soroka (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - College of Literature, Science & the Arts ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI
United States

Stephen McAdams

McGill University - Schulich School of Music - Department of Music Research ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. W
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1G5
Canada

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