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Negativity in Democratic Politics
Causes and Consequences

$27.99

Part of Cambridge Studies in Public Opinion and Political Psychology

  • Date Published: April 2014
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107636194

$27.99
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About the Authors
  • This book explores the political implications of the human tendency to prioritize negative information over positive information. Drawing on literatures in political science, psychology, economics, communications, biology, and physiology, this book argues that “negativity biases” should be evident across a wide range of political behaviors. These biases are then demonstrated through a diverse and cross-disciplinary set of analyses, for instance: in citizens' ratings of presidents and prime ministers; in aggregate-level reactions to economic news, across 17 countries; in the relationship between covers and newsmagazine sales; and in individuals' physiological reactions to network news content. The pervasiveness of negativity biases extends, this book suggests, to the functioning of political institutions – institutions that have been designed to prioritize negative information in the same way as the human brain.

    • Focuses on political communications, political behavior and political institutions, but it draws on vast literatures in psychology, economics, communications, anthropology, physiology and evolutionary biology
    • Offers broad analyses, including work with individual-level survey data, with aggregate-level macroeconomics and opinion trends, with large bodies of automated content-analytic data on media tone, and with physiological lab experiments
    • Links analysis in political behavior and psychology with the classic (and current) literature on political-institutional design
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Soroka has produced a masterly analysis of the impact of negativity, beginning with psychology, microeconomics and neuroscience, and then focusing on the field of politics. His tour de force ranges from evaluations of, and voting for, individual politicians, to government approval, media and news impact, and political institutions. In fascinating detail he then shows that all is not lost and draws out some positive consequences of this negativity bias, which may well be an effective way to manage democratic governance."
    Miles Hewstone, University of Oxford

    "This surprisingly optimistic take on the role of negativity in the political process provides a clear and engaging analysis of how and why people interpret and use negative information in unique, important, and often useful ways. Analyzing a wide array of empirical evidence from presidential assessments to media content across seventeen countries, Stuart Soroka provides a truly comprehensive portrait of negativity within the political domain. In so doing, he situates the extensive psychological and biological literature on negativity within a political context, providing a novel and convincing interpretation for the self-containing role it plays in supporting democratic institutions."
    Rose McDermott, Brown University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107636194
    • length: 198 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.33kg
    • contains: 13 b/w illus. 33 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. On negativity
    2. Negativity in politics
    3. (Political) impression formation
    4. Economic sentiment and government approval
    5. Media content
    6. Reactions to news content.

  • Author

    Stuart N. Soroka, McGill University, Montréal
    Stuart N. Soroka is Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar in the Department of Political Science at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He is currently a co-investigator of the Canadian Election Study and a member of the Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship. Soroka's previous books are Agenda-Setting Dynamics in Canada (2003) and Degrees of Democracy: Politics, Public Opinion, and Policy (coauthored with Christopher Wlezien, Cambridge University Press, 2010). Degrees of Democracy received the Seymour Martin Lipset Best Book Award from the Canadian Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. His research has also been published widely in such journals as the Journal of Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, the American Journal of Political Science, Political Communication, and West European Politics. Soroka sits on the editorial boards of three journals – Political Communication; the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties; and the Canadian Journal of Political Science.

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