Trait-focused spin in presidential debates: Surviving the kisses of death

Matthew B. Kugler, George R. Goethals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In the context of presidential debates, 2 experiments explored the impact of "trait-focused spin"-messages interpreting potentially negative personality traits in terms of broader, positive frameworks-in comparison to unfocused spin-messages simply predicting positive performance. Of interest were differences between high and low Need for Cognition (NFC) participants in their willingness to accept these messages. In Experiment 1, high NFC participants responded well to trait-focused spin but found unfocused spin unpersuasive. Low NFC participants responded equally well to both. In Experiment 2, high NFC participants again rated the target candidate more positively after trait-focused but not after unfocused spin, whereas low NFC participants did the opposite. Thus trait-focused spin can influence even those suspicious of unfocused spin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-229
Number of pages11
JournalBasic and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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