Title page for ETD etd-11072008-063127

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Lashley, Eric P.
URN etd-11072008-063127
Title Applying the inoculation message strategy to the 1990 Illinois gubernatorial race
Degree Master of Arts
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
No Advisors Found
  • Governors
Date of Defense 1991-07-05
Availability restricted

The 1988 presidential campaign was considered by many members of the news media as one of the most negative presidential campaigns in twenty years. Since then a good deal of attention has focused on negative televised political commercials. Negative televised political commercials are commercials which attack or criticize opponents and often only towards the end remind the voter of the alternative candidate. The goal of negative ads is to affect voters on both a rational and emotional level.

Critics of negative political advertising believe negative ads are detrimental to the democratic process because they create a negative atmosphere which may engulf the campaign, dissuade voters from participating in the democratic process, impair the ability of voters to make informed decisions, and they often play on the prejudices and fears of the voters. critics have offered various solutions which would curb the use or help candidates protect themselves against negative attacks, and one such solution is the "inoculation message strategy." In their book Attack Politics, Michael Pfau and Henry Kenski offer the "inoculation message strategy" as a method in the defense of negative advertising. The inoculation message strategy uses two-sided arguments to defend against attack messages. In Pfau and Kenski's research they used written attack messages in their experiments. This thesis will test the ability of the inoculation message strategy to defend against actual televised political commercials.

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