Monday, December 17, 2007

Why "Smart" Loses

At first glance this finding that, despite claimed aversion to negative advertising, voters (mis)remember the ads well and let them affect their later choices may not seem like it’s related to corrections sentencing. But read these portions (or better, the whole article—it’s short) and see if you don’t see the same reaction to the constant stream of “FEAR! FEAR! FEAR!” and other messages we get in our corrections sentencing politics. Then ask why the effect shouldn’t be the same and how exactly “smart on crime” does anything to overcome this.

They’re aversive. They’re arousing. They’re fairly well-remembered.

They’re negative political ads, and one Texas Tech University researcher has found scientific evidence that they do have a physiological and psychological effect on voters.
In a study published in the December 2007 Journal of Advertising, Bradley found that negative political advertising makes the body want to turn away physically, but the mind remembers negative messages indiscriminately and sometimes incorrectly.
“This is a single step on a journey of a thousand miles toward understanding what negative political advertising does to voters,” he said. “We’ve made some progress by showing there’s greater physiological arousal and that these ads are indiscriminately remembered.

“That’s what you want if you’re the attacker in the ad.”

Or trying to sell scary policy.

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