New research suggests political advertisements do little to persuade voters

The findings were published in Science Advances.

1 min read

A recent study released by Yale University finds that political advertisements, regardless of its content or audience potential, do little to persuade American voters. The findings were published in Science Advances.

For their study, the Yale research team examined the impact that 49 advertisements from the previous election cycle in 2016 had on a sample of 34,000 Americans. The series of experiments initiated in the study occurred throughout the primaries and general election in 2016.

Throughout a span of about seven months, the participants were split into groups and tasked with viewing either campaign advertisements or non-political commercials. Short questionnaires were then administered for their input.

Among the politically-charged advertisements shown, the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates were portrayed in both distasteful and advocated viewpoints.

According to the respondents, the impact on favorability toward a candidate after viewing political advertisements was diminutive. Overall, the findings suggest that political advertising isn’t always effective, but do not derail the power of advertising campaigns to increase name recognition, among other factors.

“TV ads help candidates increase their name recognition among the public, which is extremely important,” said Aexander Coppock, in a Yale news release.

“The effects we demonstrated were small but detectable and could make the difference between winning and losing a close election.”

© Image courtesy of Elizabeth Brockway