Physiological Response to Political Advertisement: Examining the Influence of Partisan and Issue Congruence on Attention and Emotion

H. Denis Wu


This study investigates voters’ physiological response to real political advertisements that are issue focused and sponsored by three different political entities (2 × 3 design). Eye-tracking and facial expression analyses were used to gauge viewers’ cognitive and affective responses. Results show that voters’ attention to political advertisements is influenced more by partisan congruence than by issue congruence. Viewers’ facially expressed emotions after their exposure to political advertisements are significantly less negative but hardly elated. Participants’ self-reported issue involvement and their eye-tracking measure do not necessarily match, neither do their stated discrete emotions and automatically coded facial expressions. Conceptual issues and implications from self-reported and physiological measures are discussed.


physiological response, eye tracking, facial expression, political advertising, emotion, biometric

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