A series of persuasive events. Sequencing effects of negative and positive messages on party evaluations and perceptions of negativity

New publication by Allessandro Nai and Hendrik Seeberg! Read the abstract here.
Abstract: We test how party evaluations and perceptions of negativity are affected by sequences of positive/negative persuasive messages. In an experimental survey collected in Denmark, respondents were exposed to either a positive or a negative message on three issues in a random order; this creates a setting where we can test for the effects of eight different sequences of positive and/or negative messages. We find consistent effects. Being exposed to a higher volume of negative messages often depresses evaluations of the target, whereas being exposed to a higher volume of positive messages enhances evaluation of the sponsor. These effects are nuanced by recency effects: when a sequence ends on a negative message, regardless of its overall valence, evaluation of the target is depressed; similarly, negatively valenced sequences harm the target except when the sequence ends on a positive message. Backlash effects are unlikely, and no sequence simultaneously harms the target and promotes a positive evaluation of the sponsor. Finally, negatively valenced sequences of messages enhance perceptions of negativity, whereas positively valenced sequences do not reduce it; this trend is also nuanced by recency effects.