Constrained Communication and Negativity Bias: Gendered Emotional Appeals on Facebook

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2 Scopus citations


Are women congressional candidates on Facebook disproportionately punished for using negative emotions? Scholars suggest the success of negative language used by campaigns is patterned by gender, but it is less clear whether women politicians are able to grow support on a digital platform where negativity spurs engagement. In this research note, we consider the relationship between candidate gender, negative appeals, and user engagement on Facebook. We argue that women candidates are not shying away from negative voter appeals on Facebook, posting more on average with anger, disgust, and sadness than male candidates, and those posts are likely to get increased engagement, but that interaction is conditional. Women candidates, while reinforcing connections by getting more likes and comments than their male counterparts, are not advantaged or disadvantaged in the number of times these types of posts are shared–even when the posts contain more negatively valenced language. Our research suggests that there are some limits to the benefits of using negative emotive language for congressional candidates.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Women, Politics and Policy
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Congress
  • Facebook
  • gender
  • negativity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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