In the final two months of 2023, the Australian political landscape was plagued by negative bias campaigning tactics similar to those of Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison. It is unsurprising, considering that negativity is a core element of their political philosophy. They appear incapable of recognising any positive aspect of their opponents’ policies whatsoever.
Regrettably, political negativity can be a highly effective tool. If enough mud is thrown, some of it will eventually stick. Today’s hard right does not settle for merely a handful of mudslinging; they go for bucketfuls.
For example, the government was targeted by conservative mudslinging when they failed to anticipate the High Court’s ruling on refugees. This failure was shamelessly exploited by Peter Dutton et al, who placed politics above proper political conduct. They prioritised the politics of damaging their opponents over helping to solve an exacting problem.
As night follows day, the Australian right-wing press decided on some good old leader bashing, with the Prime Minister being the target of their excrement. The conversation became about refugees, and Dutton became the superhero of far-right politics.
That the problem demanded some very considered legislation mattered not to an opposition out for the kill. Dutton got what he wanted. A bill well short of considered thought. A bill that wouldn’t survive a High Court challenge.
Dutton was offered a viewing of the legal advice he had received on the subject on Sunday, 3 December, and to this day, they have yet to bother to set their eyes upon it.
Following his inglorious defeat of The Voice referendum using negativity bias, Dutton applied the same tactics to the High Court decision.
Negativity bias is now permanently engrained in what once was an adversarial but fair democracy where lies were said, but consequences risked. Now, lying is tolerated within the endless bounds of ‘Trumpism‘, where truth has negligible importance because negativity and ignorance prevail.
You believe whatever you want. It is unimportant because conservatives and their media tarts reinforce their bullshit all the time.
The Prime Minister and his Ministers must weave into their answers to questions (any question) something that refers to the LNP’s incompetence while in government. Goodness knows there is a mountain of dreadful instances to choose from. Reinforcing the LNP’s failure in office should be an automatic response within any answer.
It is well-known how negative Tony Abbott was in opposition. So much so that it was responsible for him becoming Prime Minister. They called him the best Opposition leader ever. Subsequently, he was a failure in the top job.
We know negative bias works, but how?
Research shows that we react more strongly to negative stimuli. We think about negative things more frequently than positive ones and respond more strongly to adverse events than equally positive ones.
“Research has also shown that people tend to focus more on the negative across a wide array of psychological events as they try to make sense of the world.”
We also tend “to pay more attention to adverse events than positive ones” and learn more from negative outcomes and experiences. We also make decisions based on negative information more than positive data.
“… negative news is more likely to be perceived as truthful. Since negative information draws greater attention, it also has greater validity. This is why bad news garners more attention.”
“Differences in negativity bias have also been linked to political ideology. Some research suggests that conservatives may have more robust psychological responses to negative information than social democrats.
Some evidence, for example, has found that people who consider themselves politically conservative are more likely to rate ambiguous stimuli as threatening.”
Such differences in the negativity bias might explain why some people are more likely to value things such as tradition and security. In contrast, others are more open to embracing ambiguity and change.
If you go to the link provided, you will find a more comprehensive explanation of negative bias. However, I have given you something to think about. Moreover, we must all adjust to the fact that negativity plays a vital part in the election of a government. The reality is that a large cohort of folk thrive on scandals. They prosper on negativity. They believe they are always told the truth even when it is demonstrably not the case.
Our only recourse is to tell the truth; sometimes, more is needed. We must remind everyone of how dreadful the Coalition really was.
My thought for the day
Less informed voters unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware. Therefore, conservatives feed them all the bullshit they need. The menu generally contains a fair portion of negative bias.
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