Some Like It Hot: How Voters’ Attitude Towards Disrespect in Politics Affects Their Judgments of Candidates
RespectResearchGroup, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany; Department of Management and Economics, Kühne Logistics University, Hamburg, Germany
Niels Van Quaquebeke
Department of Management and Economics, Kühne Logistics University, Hamburg, Germany
In public debates, political candidates often attack their opponents disrespectfully. Research revealed mixed effects of such behavior on voters’ candidate judgments. In order to understand these results, we argue that it is necessary to consider onlookers’ general attitude towards disrespect in politics. Across an experimental design (N = 229) and a field study (N = 199), we found that voters who consider disrespect a “necessary evil” in the political arena judged disrespectful politicians more favorably with regard to both communion and agency. Furthermore, they displayed a higher intention to vote as well as actually voted more in favor of disrespectful candidates compared to voters who disapproved of disrespect in politics. The results show that the success of a disrespectful communication strategy substantively depends on the audience.