Document Type


First Faculty Advisor

Dietrich, John


Advertising; Politics; Media; Effects; Attack; demobilization; mobilization; advertisement; voting


Bryant University


This study examines the effectiveness of negative and positive political advertisements among voters in college. The study builds on past research exploring negative political advertising and demobilization and mobilization theories. Additionally, potential backlash against sponsoring candidates of negative policy-based attack ads is looked at as is whether those who regularly follow politics are affected differently by ads than those who do not. Fifty-three college students participated in an experiment in which they rated two candidates based on any prior knowledge and political party, assessing favorability and the likelihood of voting for each candidate. Students then watched a ten minute newscast with either a positive or negative ad sponsored by the same candidate embedded during the commercial break. They were asked again to assess their favorability and likelihood of voting for each candidate. No results were found in support of either mobilization or demobilization theories. Results did not show backlash after viewing the negative ad. The positive ad, however, proved more effective in increasing both the sponsoring candidate’s favorability and participants’ reported likelihood of voting for him. Additionally, these findings do not support past research claiming differences in effects between those who regularly follow politics and those who do not.