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Truth in Advertising?
Cover of Truth in Advertising?
Truth in Advertising?
Lies in Political Advertising and How They Affect the Electorate
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This book represents the first systematic effort to examine (1) the factual accuracy of the claims made in an entire political advertising campaign, (2) the visuals and sound cues used in that advertising and their relationship with the tone and accuracy of ads, and (3) the impact of the accuracy of claims on what people know and how they vote in a real campaign. The research is based on several years of labor-intensive coding of the factual accuracy of every claim made in the presidential ads in the 2008 election as well as the ads for the races for the US Congress in Minnesota. We show how the accuracy of political ad claims, the visuals and sound of ads, and ad tone (particularly negativity) are related to voting behavior. We argue that understanding how the accuracy of political ad claims affects voters is now more important than ever.
This research has steered clear of the normative question of what such putative gains in knowledge represent, however. Does the content of negative advertising enhance voter capacities, such as the ability to locate candidates' issue positions accurately or state reasons to like or dislike candidates based on accurate information about the candidates' traits or issue stands? Does the accuracy of the information in political advertising matter—to voting behavior or vote choice––whether turnout goes up or down? Would voting more, while knowing less that is true be sufficient in a democracy? In studying the effects of advertising tone, such questions about advertising tone have not been asked. Our book redresses this lacuna. We show that negative advertising is more likely to make inaccurate claims. We show that ads making inaccurate claims also use a larger number of visual and sound distortions, perhaps tying up more cognitive capacities while pressing their untruthful arguments. We show links between inaccurate advertising and aggregate turnout, individual turnout, and individual political knowledge. The news is not good in an age of post-factual democracies.
This book represents the first systematic effort to examine (1) the factual accuracy of the claims made in an entire political advertising campaign, (2) the visuals and sound cues used in that advertising and their relationship with the tone and accuracy of ads, and (3) the impact of the accuracy of claims on what people know and how they vote in a real campaign. The research is based on several years of labor-intensive coding of the factual accuracy of every claim made in the presidential ads in the 2008 election as well as the ads for the races for the US Congress in Minnesota. We show how the accuracy of political ad claims, the visuals and sound of ads, and ad tone (particularly negativity) are related to voting behavior. We argue that understanding how the accuracy of political ad claims affects voters is now more important than ever.
This research has steered clear of the normative question of what such putative gains in knowledge represent, however. Does the content of negative advertising enhance voter capacities, such as the ability to locate candidates' issue positions accurately or state reasons to like or dislike candidates based on accurate information about the candidates' traits or issue stands? Does the accuracy of the information in political advertising matter—to voting behavior or vote choice––whether turnout goes up or down? Would voting more, while knowing less that is true be sufficient in a democracy? In studying the effects of advertising tone, such questions about advertising tone have not been asked. Our book redresses this lacuna. We show that negative advertising is more likely to make inaccurate claims. We show that ads making inaccurate claims also use a larger number of visual and sound distortions, perhaps tying up more cognitive capacities while pressing their untruthful arguments. We show links between inaccurate advertising and aggregate turnout, individual turnout, and individual political knowledge. The news is not good in an age of post-factual democracies.
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About the Author-
  • Barbara Allen is professor of political science at Carleton College
    Daniel Stevens is professor of politics at the University of Exeter
Table of Contents-
  • chapter 1. Communicating with Voters through Political Advertising:
    Moving beyond Ad Tone to Think about the Accuracy of Ad Claims
    chapter 2. Normative Political Theory, Advertising, and Political
    Participation
    chapter 3. "You can't handle the truth?" Previous Research on
    Political Advertising
    chapter 4. Evaluating the Accuracy, Visuals, and Sound of
    Advertising and Their Impacts
    chapter 5. Anatomy of an Ad Campaign: What Ads Say and
    When They Say It
    chapter 6. The Accuracy of Claims Made in Political Advertising
    chapter 7. Spectacle, Message, and Meaning in the Visuals and
    Sound of Political Advertising
    Barbara Allen, Daniel Stevens, and Jeffrey Berg
    chapter 8. Examining the Visuals and Sound in Political Advertising
    chapter 9. The Effects of Ad Accuracy on Political Knowledge
    and Turnout
    chapter 10. Conclusion
Reviews-
  • Travis N. Ridout, Washington State University For almost two decades, I have been following the research of Barbara Allen and Dan Stevens on political advertising. What a treat it is to see such a compelling and important research agenda come together in a book. No one understands truth (and untruth) in political advertising—and how the electorate responds to that—better than Allen and Stevens.
  • James N. Druckman, Northwestern University "Few topics are of more contemporary importance than misinformation. This book is a monumental contribution on the topic – looking at the dynamics and effects of inaccuracies in political advertising. The results are sobering: there is a lot of inaccuracy and it matters. The book is exhaustive and sets an agenda for future work on electoral campaigns."
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    Lexington Books
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Truth in Advertising?
Truth in Advertising?
Lies in Political Advertising and How They Affect the Electorate
Barbara Allen
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