Political Advertising and Public Mood: A Study of Children's Political Orientations

Wendy M. Rahn, Rebecca M. Hirshorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Political advertising can cause changes in children's political attitudes and affect their involvement in politics by momentarily altering their levels of "public mood." We define this concept and present results from a study in which we use the tone of political advertising to induce change in the public moods of young children. Results support the hypothesis that advertising tone affects public mood. These changes in feelings, in turn, mediate attitude change in some political orientations. In addition, while advertising tone does not significantly affect children's desire to vote as a main effect, it moderates the role of psychological resources. Children high in political efficacy are stimulated by negative advertising, whereas children low in political efficacy lose enthusiasm for voting. No such differences are observed for children who view positive ads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-407
Number of pages21
JournalPolitical Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
An earlier version of this article was presented at the 1995 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago. This research was supported in part by a University of Wisconsin Hillsdale Fellowship and National Science Foundation Grant 94050110 to Wendy M. Rahn.


  • Emotions
  • Mood
  • National Identity
  • Political Advertising
  • Political Socialization


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