On the immoral campaign trail: Conceptualization, underlying affective processes, and democratic outcomes of perceived dirty campaigning

Franz Reiter, Jörg Matthes

Veröffentlichungen: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelPeer Reviewed


Dirty campaigning, which is understood as actions between elite politicians that violate social norms and democratic principles, is becoming an increasingly relevant phenomenon across the globe. Despite this development, we know little about which forms constitute dirty campaigning, how citizens perceive dirty campaigning, and how perceived dirty campaigning is associated with affective responses and political trust. We argue that the techniques and actions that constitute dirty campaigning go beyond uncivil campaigning and deceitful campaign techniques, as dirty campaigning also involves disinformation campaigning. Using data from a two-wave panel study (N = 524) during the 2020 Viennese state election campaign, we examined the perceived structure of the dirty campaigning construct using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. We show that perceived dirty campaigning forms a hierarchical construct with three latent variables. Furthermore, we tested the associations of perceived dirty campaigning with negative emotions toward campaigns as well as outcomes related to political trust. Using structural equation modeling with longitudinal measurement invariance and controlling for autoregressive associations, we found that perceived dirty campaigning increases anger, frustration, and disgust toward campaigns, as well as increases distrust in politicians over time. We also observed that frustration toward campaigns decreases trust in democracy and that disgust toward campaigns increases distrust in politicians over time. We contribute to previous research by developing a framework for investigating perceived dirty campaigning as a hierarchical construct and demonstrating how perceived dirty campaigning can impair democratic outcomes.

FachzeitschriftAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Frühes Online-Datum1 Apr. 2024
PublikationsstatusElektronische Veröffentlichung vor Drucklegung - 1 Apr. 2024

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