Populist actors use an emotional, dramatized and colloquial language, and for this reason their messages are more convincing. Or, at least, that is what many commentators have been arguing for quite some time. In her research, Dominique Wirz* found out that this is actually the case. In this interview she explains that populist messages are very likely to trigger emotions – negative emotions towards the bad people and positive emotions towards the good people. Moreover, since negative emotions are unpleasant, people feel a strong need for immediate solutions and this seems to makes populist appeals especially persuasive.
In this interview POP discusses with Alessandro Nai about the causes and consequences of negative campaigning as well as the links with populism and attack politics.
Alessandro Nai is Visiting Fellow at the University of Sydney, and Assistant Professor of Political Communication and Journalism at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR, University of Amsterdam) from August 2017 onwards. His personal research agenda is on electoral behavior, political psychology, direct democracy, and campaigning effects. His work appeared in peer-review journals such as Political Psychology, European Journal of Political Research, Electoral Studies and the Journal of Political Marketing. He recently published New Perspectives on Negative Campaigning: Why Attack Politics Matters (with Annemarie S. Walter, ECPR Press, 2015) and Election Watchdogs: Transparency, Accountability and Integrity (with Pippa Norris, Oxford University Press, 2017).