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How do the words we use to talk about politics influence political attitudes and evaluations? I focus specifically on negative affective language; words which individuals have pre-existing negative reactions towards. Considering the Affect Infusion Model (AIM), processing style influences how individuals use affect when making decisions. The impact of affective language depends upon the complexity of the decision. In simpler processing tasks, individuals will use affect as a heuristic. This causes a misattribution of generalized negative affect onto a political target, leading to harsher evaluations. When a decision is complex, affective language influences how new information is stored in memory, along with improving information recall and abstract thinking. For those who are exposed to negative affective language, negative evaluations of politicians persist more strongly in memory, while these evaluations fade away when affect is used as a heuristic.

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Utych, Stephen M. Negative Affective Language in Politics. American Politics Research, 46(1), pp. 77-102. Copyright © 2018, SAGE. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications. doi: 10.1177/1532673X17693830