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How Sex Affects Perceptions of Aggression in Negative Campaign Advertising
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by Heather Leigh Littleton and Benjamin R. Stephens* - Clemson University
Categories: Gender | Social
The purpose of this study was to examine whether female political candidates are negatively evaluated when they violate gender role stereotypes. Participants received one campaign advertisement that focused solely on attacking the opponent and another advertisement that was tempered with positive statements about the candidate; the candidates were either men or women. Participants then evaluated the candidate on aggressiveness and leadership effectiveness using a semantic differential scale. No significant differences were found in the evaluation of the candidate's leadership effectiveness based on sex. However, male candidates were rated as significantly more aggressive than female candidates in the assaultive advertisement condition (the advertisement that focused solely on attacking the opponent). One interpretation of this finding is female candidates were dissociated from the aggressive act.