An interesting study from Penn State University, the results of which are posted to the @UofR website, Futurity.org:
Futurity.org – Power of political TV ads overrated.
About 45 percent of the participants identified themselves as Bush supporters and 55 percent considered themselves opponents of the president.
Both supporters and opponents indicated that the effect of the ads on others was significantly greater than their own reaction to the ads, says Shen.
The study shows that people generally think that the results of agenda advertising are much greater on others than themselves. By contrast, test subjects believed ads for positive things like donating to a good cause had greater effect on them than on others.
Basically, we all think the other guy is an asshole. Basically.
Note, however, that the study does not test whether the subject’s impression of the candidate was better or worse, only their perception of others. The study is significant in that it suggests that some of the fear surrounding negative ads may be influenced by our perception of our neighbors more than the ad. But it doesn’t actually test to see how effective the adverts actually were.