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Effectiveness Of Negative Political Advertising Essay, Research Paper

Throughout history polititians have used various methods , such as persuasive speeches , political advertising and political rallies , to achieve their ?primary goal,the winning votes? . But according to the results of the reseach made by Won Ho Chang (Professor and Director of the Stephenonson Research Center at the University of Missouri?s School of Journalism) , Jae-Jin Park (Public Relation Specialist with LG Corporation in Seoul, Korea ) and Sung Wook Shim(graduate student in the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri ) in 1998 ?over the years , politicians have found that it is most advantageous to use political advertising to persuade voters ?. For example ,the majority of presidential campaigns depend on television advretising . Clinton spent $12 million of his $30.9 million limit on television commercials in the middle of the primaries , $42.4 million during preconvention , and $44 million on television ads in the general election . A total of $98.4 million was used on television commercials . Why did he spent such a great sum of money on television ads ? Political advertising , in contrary to product advertising , must get results in a short period of time , and poltical practitioners use several kinds of political advertising : image , issue and negative advertising . ?Although there exists no rule in using political advertising , prior to the 198s candidates usually used issue and image ads at the beginning of a campaign to establish their positive image and then used negative ads at the end of campaign to attack the opponent . However , those strategies were abandoned in the 1980s . A significant trend in today?s political advertising is the increasing use of negative political advertising .? Politicians nowadays use this very kind of ?self-advertisement? from the beginning of the campaing and during it whole .

Why do political practitioners increasingly use negative political advertising ? Why do they think it is effective ? Garramone asserted that negative ads are very effective when differentiatin or discriminating candidates? images , and pointed out that :

?By providing concrete substantive information , a negative political ad may allow voters to distinguish candidate qualities , positions , and performance more readily than would other types of political information that provide less explicit information . Also ,the greater perceived differences between candidates may lead voters to greater attitude polarization regarding the candidates . That is , by discerning clear differences between candidates , voters may be more likely to strongly like one candidate while strongly dislike the other .?

Political consultants generally suggest that negative advertising is more effective in terms of information than positive one . Lau in a study of negativity in political perception , indicated that ?the tendency for negative information to have more weight than equally extreme or equally likely positive information appears in a variety of cognitive processing tasks ? .

What effects can negative political advertising cause ? There are some unintended effects that usually refer to a boomerang effect. Garramone defined a boomerang effect as one which ? may create more negative feelings toward the sponsor, rather than toward the target ?.

Merritt?s study of voter?s responses to negative advertising in California Assembly District found that ?the negative political advertising evokes negative affect toward both the targeted opponent and the sponsor?.

According to the results of the research ?Political attack advertising? made by Alison Smith and Rushworth M. Kidder in October 1996 ,?negative ads do not always play a negative role in the political process . In spite of the general disfavor the public may feel toward them , negative ads , and particularly comparative negative ads , often contain information about candidates? voting records and policy stands-issues voters obviously have an interest in exploring . Moreover , voters tend to remember negative ads , especially those that are frequently dramatic and repeated?.

In addition , there is one more interesting fact : negative political advertising is effective because not all ?bad? ads do violence to the electoral process , for example , some may be perfectly truthful to the facts , and essentially fair in avoiding personal spins , while still using language that degrades the public discourse in irresponsible ways and shows little respect for the opponent .

Before summing up all the advantages and disadvantages of the negative political advertising , it should be noted that ?it is difficult to determine the effectiveness of political (advertising)?. As Devlin asserted , because many things happen simultaneously in a real election, ?it is difficult to isolate the impact of political advertising?.

Negative political advertising can be considered as both informative and uninformative , untruthful and truthfulness , there are researches that proof both , whom to believe is a choice of each person who is interested in such a theme .

There are interesting facts in the study conducted in Ohio University : ?African Americans are more likely to believe that negative political advertising is informative and have more positive attitudes toward the sponsor than whites ?. Also , in the report on the results of the research there is information on gender differences : ?women were more negative toward both the sponsor and the target ?. ?Negative political advertising would be effective with lower income level people . They perceived negative political advertising as more informative and more believable and had more positive attitudes toward the sponsor than higher income level people ?.

The counterproductive aspects of negative political advertising ?may arise from the fact that negative advertisement are rated as ?effective? because the message itself remembered , but ?ineffective? because the candidate sponsoring the ad is harmed ?.


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