Objective. Some studies of negative campaign advertising's impact argue that a backlash or “boomerang effect” exists. However, the appropriate conceptualization of a boomerang effect might not be an immediate backlash against the sponsor but a delayed response that comes after repeated exposure to negative campaign advertisements.
Method. We conducted an experiment using a variation of the pretest-posttest control group design in which treatment groups were exposed to varying numbers of negative campaign advertisements.
Results. There is a parabolic effect of repeated exposure to negative advertisements that is gender specific. Among women, the sponsor initially benefits from an enhanced image but suffers a decline in image when the voters become overexposed to negative advertisements.
Conclusion. A reconceptualization of the “boomerang effect” of negative campaign advertising is in order.