Political Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 167–188 | Cite as

The Relationship Between Campaign Negativity, Gender and Campaign Context

  • Yanna Krupnikov
  • Nichole M. Bauer
Original Paper


Are female candidates disproportionately punished for relying on negative campaign ads? While scholars agree that sponsoring negativity works against traditional gender stereotypes, it is less clear how relying on negativity affects voter evaluations of female candidates. In this manuscript we reconsider the relationship between candidate gender and negativity. Relying on theories of conditional stereotype use, we argue that negative ads translate to significantly poorer evaluations for the female candidate when two conditions are met: (1) the female candidate is perceived as the instigator of negativity and (2) she is of a different party than the voter. We test our predictions using an experiment and show that female candidates only face a disproportionate punishment for relying on negativity under our two specific conditions. In contrast, voters are much more forgiving when they believe that a female candidate simply followed her opponent’s lead in using negative ads or when negativity is used to promote the voter’s party. While our research suggests that—compared to their male counterparts—female candidates do face some added constraints, our findings have broader implications. Not only are voters more or less likely to use gender stereotypes under certain conditions, but these conditions are highly dependent on the campaign context.


Gender Campaign negativity 



We would like to thank Nathaniel Birkhead, Beth Easter, Adam Seth Levine, Mary Beth Lombardo and Spencer Piston for helpful comments on various drafts of this manuscript. We are also grateful to the editors of Political Behavior and the three anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved this manuscript.

Supplementary material

11109_2013_9221_MOESM1_ESM.docx (257 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 256 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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