Do negative messages work? The impact of negativity on citizens' evaluations of candidates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

64 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We examine the effectiveness of negative campaigning. Specifically, we focus on the question, Do negative campaign messages alter citizens' evaluations of competing candidates? We rely on a research design that replicates the campaign environment for nearly 100 Senate elections involving thousands of voters. Furthermore, we utilize a theoretical framework that sheds light on how negative information influences people's social judgments. In general, the results suggest that negative messages delivered in a legitimate fashion and focusing on a relevant topic depress evaluations of opponents. In contrast, negative messages containing irrelevant information delivered in an overly strident manner depress evaluations of both candidates involved in the campaign. In addition, the findings indicate that the impact of negative messages varies depending on (a) the status of the candidate delivering the message, (b) the characteristics of the citizens receiving the message, and (c) the style of the candidates' criticisms (e.g., policy vs. personal attacks).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-605
Number of pages36
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Volume32
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2004

Fingerprint

candidacy
citizen
campaign
evaluation
social judgement
senate
research planning
criticism
election

Keywords

  • Candidate evaluations
  • Mudslinging
  • Negative campaigning
  • Senate elections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Do negative messages work? The impact of negativity on citizens' evaluations of candidates. / Fridkin, Kim; Kenney, Patrick.

In: American Politics Research, Vol. 32, No. 5, 09.2004, p. 570-605.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{fc14671adacd48dfa01909197a96f4aa,
title = "Do negative messages work? The impact of negativity on citizens' evaluations of candidates",
abstract = "We examine the effectiveness of negative campaigning. Specifically, we focus on the question, Do negative campaign messages alter citizens' evaluations of competing candidates? We rely on a research design that replicates the campaign environment for nearly 100 Senate elections involving thousands of voters. Furthermore, we utilize a theoretical framework that sheds light on how negative information influences people's social judgments. In general, the results suggest that negative messages delivered in a legitimate fashion and focusing on a relevant topic depress evaluations of opponents. In contrast, negative messages containing irrelevant information delivered in an overly strident manner depress evaluations of both candidates involved in the campaign. In addition, the findings indicate that the impact of negative messages varies depending on (a) the status of the candidate delivering the message, (b) the characteristics of the citizens receiving the message, and (c) the style of the candidates' criticisms (e.g., policy vs. personal attacks).",
keywords = "Candidate evaluations, Mudslinging, Negative campaigning, Senate elections",
author = "Kim Fridkin and Patrick Kenney",
year = "2004",
month = "9",
doi = "10.1177/1532673X03260834",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "32",
pages = "570--605",
journal = "American Politics Research",
issn = "1532-673X",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Inc.",
number = "5",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Do negative messages work? The impact of negativity on citizens' evaluations of candidates

AU - Fridkin, Kim

AU - Kenney, Patrick

PY - 2004/9

Y1 - 2004/9

N2 - We examine the effectiveness of negative campaigning. Specifically, we focus on the question, Do negative campaign messages alter citizens' evaluations of competing candidates? We rely on a research design that replicates the campaign environment for nearly 100 Senate elections involving thousands of voters. Furthermore, we utilize a theoretical framework that sheds light on how negative information influences people's social judgments. In general, the results suggest that negative messages delivered in a legitimate fashion and focusing on a relevant topic depress evaluations of opponents. In contrast, negative messages containing irrelevant information delivered in an overly strident manner depress evaluations of both candidates involved in the campaign. In addition, the findings indicate that the impact of negative messages varies depending on (a) the status of the candidate delivering the message, (b) the characteristics of the citizens receiving the message, and (c) the style of the candidates' criticisms (e.g., policy vs. personal attacks).

AB - We examine the effectiveness of negative campaigning. Specifically, we focus on the question, Do negative campaign messages alter citizens' evaluations of competing candidates? We rely on a research design that replicates the campaign environment for nearly 100 Senate elections involving thousands of voters. Furthermore, we utilize a theoretical framework that sheds light on how negative information influences people's social judgments. In general, the results suggest that negative messages delivered in a legitimate fashion and focusing on a relevant topic depress evaluations of opponents. In contrast, negative messages containing irrelevant information delivered in an overly strident manner depress evaluations of both candidates involved in the campaign. In addition, the findings indicate that the impact of negative messages varies depending on (a) the status of the candidate delivering the message, (b) the characteristics of the citizens receiving the message, and (c) the style of the candidates' criticisms (e.g., policy vs. personal attacks).

KW - Candidate evaluations

KW - Mudslinging

KW - Negative campaigning

KW - Senate elections

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=4243099339&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=4243099339&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1177/1532673X03260834

DO - 10.1177/1532673X03260834

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:4243099339

VL - 32

SP - 570

EP - 605

JO - American Politics Research

JF - American Politics Research

SN - 1532-673X

IS - 5

ER -