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November 21, 2006

Contrary to common wisdom, people informed about politics are more susceptible to emotional campaign ads.


Who’s moved by campaign ads? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

People who know a lot about politics are less susceptible to those overly dramatic political ads, right? Well, no. Research by political scientist Ted Brader of the University of Michigan shows that it’s exactly those informed people who react most to campaign ads with emotional appeals. And while that might seem counter-intuitive, he says the explanation may be that people who know more about politics simply care more.

TED BRADER (University of Michigan):
So in some respects it makes perfect sense that those who are more plugged in in the first place are going to be those who respond more to the emotional calls and emotional manipulations.

But candidates should beware: Brader has found that while people do react to these emotional ads, they don’t always react as the makers intended. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.