Coming out of 2020 was traumatizing — in one way, or another to most people forced to live in the COVID-19 pandemic stricken world. While the world-at-large was attempting to wage war against a microscopic enemy, the United States of America was involved in an additional skirmish.

Then presidential hopeful Joe Biden called the 2020 election, “The battle for the soul of America,” and the political advertising from both sides showcased exactly how well the negative messaging was working to rally each party’s base. When asked about election season, most people will say that they cannot stand all the negative advertising on their screens or in their mailbox, but several field studies have showed that while voters may not “like” it, they do respond to it. This paper will start with the first examples of negative political advertising, explain the types of negative advertising and provide a psychological analysis of the ways humans’ process negative information. I will then compare and review five field studies/focus groups/experiments conducted by research groups between the years 1999-2018.

Year Manuscript Completed

Spring 2021

Senior Project Advisor

G. Michael Barton, MBA, SPHR

Degree Awarded

Bachelor of Integrated Studies Degree

Field of Study


Document Type