• Self-interest;
  • rational actor;
  • identity-construction;
  • altruism;
  • activism;
  • participation;
  • moral motivation

The study examined the perceptions of political candidates (male and female) who make negative statements about the personality and integrity of their political opponents. Male and female participants (Sex of Participant factor) indicated their impressions of a male or female political candidate (Sex of Candidate factor) who either attacked or did not attack the character of his/her opponent (Attack factor) in a political leadership debate. Participants who read a speech given by a candidate of their own gender tended to rate the candidate as having greater integrity when the candidate attacked his/her opponent than when he/she did not. When judging a candidate of the opposite gender, participants tended to rate the candidate who attacked his/her opponent as having less integrity than a candidate who did not attack his/her opponent. Results are discussed with regard to the impact that aggressive campaign tactics can have on voter perceptions, and how similarity between voters and candidates may affect perceptions of such tactics.