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News, Politics, and Negativity

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  • Stuart Soroka
  • Stephen McAdams

Abstract

Work in political communication has discussed the ongoing predominance of negative news, but has offered few convincing accounts for this focus. A growing body of literature shows that humans regularly pay more attention to negative information than to positive information, however. This paper argues that we should view the nature of news content in part as a consequence of this asymmetry bias observed in human behavior. A psychophysiological experiment capturing viewers' reactions to actual news content shows that negative news elicits stronger and more sustained reactions than does positive news. Results are discussed as they pertain to political behavior and communication, and to politics and political institutions more generally.

Suggested Citation

  • Stuart Soroka & Stephen McAdams, 2012. "News, Politics, and Negativity," CIRANO Working Papers 2012s-14, CIRANO.
  • Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2012s-14
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    File URL: http://www.cirano.qc.ca/files/publications/2012s-14.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Tversky, Amos & Slovic, Paul & Kahneman, Daniel, 1990. "The Causes of Preference Reversal," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 204-217, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maria Arango-Kure & Marcel Garz & Armin Rott, 2014. "Bad News Sells: The Demand for News Magazines and the Tone of Their Covers," Journal of Media Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(4), pages 199-214, December.

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    Keywords

    negativity bias; mass media; political communication; psychophysiology;

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