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

8 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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