The relationship between advertisement content and pacing on emotional responses and memory for televised political advertisements




Hughes, Andrew Gary

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Political advertising remains the most dominant method of political communication in the world as it is the most effective way of communicating the promise of exchange to the political market. Without a doubt the single most important, expensive and well used method of political advertising is televised political advertising. It is also an area of increasing public policy concern over the perceived impact that it is having on society's perceptions of the democratic process, institutions and stakeholders. This is especially so for negative advertising which may very well be creating a negative attitude in voters towards political offerings of exchanges, brands, institutions and stakeholders that may not be reflective of reality. Yet little research has examined if this is true and little is known about whether or not voters respond emotionally to televised political advertising, and if this response influences their memory and arousal to the message. Even more broadly how political advertising is influencing the response to the communication of political exchanges in the context of an offering of value and one of loss, and how this influences emotional response to brands, is still not yet fully understood. This thesis will therefore examine what political promise of exchange when communicated using television advertising, either of value or loss, is best remembered by voters. This will help understand how political advertising is affecting voters' memory of political exchanges and attitude to brands. It will use psychophysiological measures of skin conductance and heart rate to measure how voters respond to different types of political messages that vary on two important variables: message structure, in this thesis pace, which can influence the perceived information complexity and content of a message; and valence or if the message is negative or positive in content. This will further knowledge and understanding about whether or not negative and positive advertising (that varies by pace) is affecting the emotional responses of voters to the point where they become more aroused and better remember political messages.






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