A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar: A meta-analysis of humor effects on persuasion

Nathan Walter*, Michael J. Cody, Larry Zhiming Xu, Sheila T. Murphy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite its long history in communication, scholars continue to debate whether humor enhances or undermines persuasive attempts. To better understand the contingencies of humor effects, we conducted a meta-analysis of 89 studies across the various fields in which humor has been researched over time. Overall, humor has a weak and significant effect on persuasion (r =.13). Further, results indicate that humor has a moderate-level influence on knowledge (r =.23) and only a weak impact on attitudes (r =.12) and behavioral intent (r =.09). The analysis supports the dual-processing nature of humorous messages, with related-humor being more effective for highlyinvolved individuals. Finally, while the analysis did not support the humor sleepereffect prediction, the results revealed an inverted U-shaped effect of humor intensity on persuasion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-373
Number of pages31
JournalHuman Communication Research
Volume44
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

Keywords

  • Humor
  • Media effects
  • Meta-analysis
  • Persuasion
  • Satire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language

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