Negative ads affecting our brains?

MEQUON -- How does this sound? Campaign ads that control your brain.  According to a Marquette professor it's not science fiction.

A flurry of new negative campaign ads have been released this week by candidates fighting for victory in the upcoming recall election.  All of them were negative.  We may hate them, but Marquette professor and social psychologist Steven Franzoi says they work.

"It's very effective.  It's persuasive.  You can turn people against a candidate by using negative campaign ads," Franzoi said.

These ads may be more powerful than you realize. Franzoi explains that studies show humans around the world in different cultures are all affected by similar facial expressions, like the ones dramatized in campaign ads.

"It signals danger in our environment.  Either someone is about ready to attack us, or there are other people about to attack the group as a whole," Franzoi said.

That can leave a lasting negative impression about a candidate, and it's those type of ads that will begin flooding our airwaves. "This recall campaign will be the mother of all," public relations specialist Evan Zeppos said.

Zeppos, owner of Zeppos and Associates, says we will see an unprecedented amount of money thrown at swaying our votes. "There is going to be a barrage that is going to get more frequent, and the tone of them is most likely going to get a lot nastier," Zeppos said.

A warning to campaigns: Franzoi says you can get too negative, and cross the line.

"When it goes over the top and it is viewed as harming the group in some way, then that negative information can be viewed negatively," Franzoi said.

It's a fine line that both the psychologist and public relations expert expect to be tested.