The images appear on television while ominous music plays in the background. It is yet another negative political ad and before you are aware of it, the message takes hold of your brain.
You may not want it to, but it works just about instantly.
In fact, the ad's effects on the brain "are actually shocking," says psychiatry professor Dr. Marco Iacoboni.
Scientists around the United States are keeping track of the emotional and physical effects of negative political ads. Iacoboni tracked parts of the middle brain that lit up in brain scans when people watched their favorite candidates get attacked. Other scientists hooked up wires to measure frowns and smiles before the meaning of the ads' words sunk in. Mostly, researchers found that negative ads tend make it less likely that supporters of an attacked candidate will vote.
"Everyone says, 'We hate them, they're terrible,'" said psychology professor George Bizer. However, he added, "They seem to work."
And politicians know it because the latest figures show that political parties are spending more money on negative ads than positive ones.
Negative ads make supporters of the attacker more likely to vote and make the followers of the victimized candidate feel depressed and less likely to vote, said Stanford University communications professor Shanto Iyengar.
But the attack ads do not do much to independents, said Iyengar, who has finished a study on people's reactions to positive and negative ads in seven close US Senate races which were decided last Tuesday. His online study measured "the basic gut feeling, the emotional reaction," of Democrats, Republicans and independents who watched the ads. (AP)
1. ominous adj.
不祥的 (bu4 xiang2 de5)
例: Sometimes dark clouds can be seen like an ominous sign.
2. instantly adv.
立即 (li4 ji2)
例: When Casey is tired, a strong cup of coffee wakes her up instantly.
3. victimized adj.
受害的 (shou4 hai4 de5)
例: Coming home to find that someone has wrecked your house and stolen all your things will make you feel victimized.
4. depressed adj.
沮喪的 (qing zhu4)，失意的 (shi1 yi4 de5)
例: I was looking forward to this party until my boyfriend dumped me; now I'm too depressed to go anywhere.