A Priest, a Rabbi, and a Minister Walk into a Bar: A Meta-Analysis of Humor Effects on Persuasion

Published on Oct 1, 2018in Human Communication Research
· DOI :10.1093/HCR/HQY005
Nathan Walter10
Estimated H-index: 10
(SC: University of Southern California),
Michael J. Cody38
Estimated H-index: 38
(SC: University of Southern California)
+ 1 AuthorsSheila T. Murphy33
Estimated H-index: 33
(SC: University of Southern California)
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Abstract
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Fear appeals are a polarizing issue, with proponents confident in their efficacy and opponents confident that they backfire. We present the results of a comprehensive meta-analysis investigating fear appeals' effectiveness for influencing attitudes, intentions, and behaviors. We tested predictions from a large number of theories, the majority of which have never been tested meta-analytically until now. Studies were included if they contained a treatment group exposed to a fear appeal, a valid co...
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Public service announcements (PSAs) are traditionally designed to elicit negative emotions that spur problem-solving behavior. However, in order to improve their reach, some social marketers are forgoing traditional strategy by creating PSAs that are humorous. Because of humor’s positivity and association with non-serious situations, we hypothesized that humorous appeals can decrease problem perception and problemsolving behavior. Study 1 examined problem perceptions using matched pairs of hum...
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This study constructs and tests a conceptual model of how and for whom political satire affects political attitudes. With an experiment, we show that young adults compared to older people are more absorbed in satirical items than in regular news. Subsequently, absorption decreased counterarguing such that the attitude toward the satirized object was affected negatively. By contrast, we show that political satire positively affects the attitude toward the satirized subject via perceived funniness...
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Certain health issues such as mental illness and sexually transmitted infections evoke feelings of shame, which typically causes withdrawal coping, making it challenging for campaign planners to effectively communicate pertinent information in intervention messages. In three experimental studies, humor is tested as an advertising strategy that might attenuate the negative effects of shame and increase message persuasion. As an individual factor that correlates with social anxiety and vulnerabili...
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Threat persuasion, also known as fear appeal in advertising, is often employed in public service advertisements (PSAs). In light of its limitations, practitioners have recognized the potential of humor in increasing threat message persuasion, but research on humorous threat persuasion is scarce. Across two studies, responses between the conventional threat persuasion PSA and the humorous threat persuasion PSA were compared. The findings show that the emotional and cognitive responses underlying ...
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Although it is well known that sex and humour can help sell products, hardly any research has examined whether there is something particular about sexual advertisements that makes them more persuasive than other appeals. The present research proposed an empirically robust way to test the persuasiveness of different emotional appeals (sex, humour, control) by matching them on pleasure and arousal levels. Two experiments (N = 162; N = 301) examined the combined persuasive effects of different leve...
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Abstract null null Although humor is a universal feature of human communication, people vary widely in how they create and use humor. Guided by a broader model of creative self-beliefs, we developed the Humor Efficacy and Identity Short Scales (HEISS), a pair of 4-item scales measuring humor self-efficacy (“I can” beliefs reflecting confidence about one's ability to be funny) and humor identity (“I am” beliefs reflecting the centrality of humor ability to one's self-concept). Using a large sampl...
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In this paper, we present a research agenda for longitudinal risk communication during a global pandemic. Starting from an understanding that traditional approaches to risk communication for epidemics, crises, and disasters have focused on short-duration events, we acknowledge the limitations of existing theories, frameworks, and models for both research and practice in a rapidly changing communication environment. We draw from scholarship in communication, sociology, anthropology, public health...
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Humor is a form of communication that is intended to be entertaining and produce positive affective and cognitive responses from receivers. Nonetheless, humor in the workplace is a complicated matter. It has been recognized as a valuable tool for managers because it can activate various favorable outcomes and alter employees' perception of the manager's warmth and competence (impression management), but not always to the benefit of the manager. In our studies, the use of humor showed changed att...
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