幽默、非幽默反駁之相對效果：候選人核心形象之干擾 The Relative Effect between Humorous and Non-Humorous Rebuttal: The Moderation of Candidate’s Core Image
candidate image, humor, negative attacks, rebuttal, response strategies
Negative attacks on candidates or disclosures that could potentially impact their image appear frequently during elections. When being attacked, a candidate’s response is often crucial for gauging the impact of the accusation, the persistence of the charge(s), and voters’ assessments on the views of both the responding and attacking sides. Previous studies have focused on the impact of negative attacks and how to effectively design attack content, but there is little focus on candidates’ responses to negative charges as well as methods to identify which response strategies are more effective under specific conditions. Accordingly, this study explores the effect of using humorous rebuttal versus non-humorous rebuttal when responding to a candidate’s image being attacked by an opponent. In addition, it examines how the rebuttal leads to better effects when the attack goes against the candidate’s core and non-core images. The results of three experiments show that when a candidate’s core image is attacked and voters’ original perception of that core image is based on the candidate’s educational background, work experience, and previous performance as a public official, then using a humorous rebuttal or non-humorous rebuttal yields similar effects. However, if the core image perception comes from stereotypes, regardless of gender or attractiveness labels, then using a non-humorous rebuttal improves voters’ attitudes and voting intentions toward the responding candidate. When a candidate’s non-core image is attacked, humorous rebuttal generates better rebuttal effects. The research findings offer a theoretical contribution to research areas such as response strategies to negative attacks, candidate image, gender stereotypes, and attractiveness labels and provide practical suggestions for campaign teams on how to respond to negative attacks.