Negative Political Advertising

I was interested in Negative Political Advertising. It still works in American politics. The future studies shoul be done to examine the effectiveness of Negative Political Advertising. Critics of negative political advertising argue that these ads contribute to voter alienation and apathy and are harmful to the U.S. democratic process.Some researchers have found the following.


  • True Negative: an effort is made to diminish the image of the opponent
  • Comparative Ads: an attempt is made to lesson the image of the opponent
  • Positive Ads: the sponsor is promoted as the solution to some issue

Intended Effects

  • Informative to voters
  • Help the attacking candidate to be more effective with issue attack
  • Retain information well

Unintended Effects

  • Turning voters off from the election
  • Negative Ads are seen as something worse
  • Backlash effect on an attacking candidate


1. Garramone, G. M. (1984). Voter responses to negative political ads.
Journalism Quarterly, 61, 250-259.
2. Johnson-Cartee, K. S., & Copeland, G. A. (1991). Negative political advertising: coming of age. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1-283.
3. Merrit, S. (1984). Negative political advertising: some empirical findings. Journal of Advertising, 13(3), 27-38.
4. Surlin, S.H. , Gordon, T.F. (1977). How values affect attitudes toward direct reference political advertising. Journalism Quarterly, 54, 89-98.
5. Trent, J.S. & Friedenberg, R.V. (1995). Political campaign communication:principles and practices. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
6. West, D. M. (1993). Air Wars : Television Advertising in Election Campaigns, 1952-1992. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Inc, 46-52.

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Last updated: November 3, 2000