Attack Versus Advocacy: Advertising Tone That Mobilizes

Jaeho Cho


This study examines the role of attack ads in encouraging citizen communication. Using a national survey merged with ad tracking data, this study finds that attack advertising elicited negative emotions about the candidate the voter opposed, which in turn fostered political conversation. However, such indirect effects of campaign advertising were not observed for advocacy advertising. Data also reveal that attack ads outperformed advocacy ads overall when it came to promoting political discussion. Taken together, it is attack advertising, not advocacy advertising, that promotes political discussion, and negative emotions explain, at least in part, how the attack ad effects occur.


political advertising, political discussion, political affect, negative advertising, campaign effects

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