COM 323: Persuasion and Arguments
Instructor: Reed Markham
March 2, 2015
The Effects of Humor in Persuasion
Persuasion can have a very effective tool called humor. Although there is doubt to it power, the effects does not seem to be conclusive, and there is some effects also created by the use of humor in persuasion. There is risk in everything we do, even positive effects come with risk, and humor use in persuasion ought to be with prudently and appropriately. Even though using humor there are consequences , without considering the variables that are involved, and it is more than having witty intentions. A quote from Lyttle, L( 2001), concludes “ the effects produces by humor may be too small to compensate for any weaknesses in the persuasive message itself” (p.214). A tool to enhance a very good persuasive message is humor , but not a substitute for a poor crafted message. When used as a tool humor can enhance a well created persuasive message, but is not a replacement for a mad replacement.
When using humor appropriately it can produce positive results, In 1978 “ According to persuasion theory, people who are in a good mood are less likely to disagree with a persuasive message” ( Lyttle, 2001) (p.207). Humor is as if a message sender could create a “halo effect”, as Seiter and Grass ( 2004) will tell you when “ one positive quality in a person can cause you to assume that the individual has many positive qualities” ( p.172). The “ halo effect “ generally is used to explain the increased credibility of someone who is attractive in appearance ,however this effect seems extended to other qualities as well as humor.
The (CAT) Communication Accommodation Theory suggest” that people are influenced by those who speak at the same rate as they do” ( Seiter, & Grass,2004, p. 175). Although humor is unrelated to the speaking pace or rate of how a message is delivered and the connections to the effort needed for the receiver to perceive a message, one could attribute the same connections to humor and message processing. Such as if a person could process a message a lot faster and in a pleasant , due to the use of humor than the effect is similar of what is illustrated by the Communication Accommodation Theory
In the conclusions of Lyttle’s ( 2001) the effects continue to be seen, research goes to say that humor might “ increase likings from the source” ( p. 207). According to Meyer (1997), when a source shared the targets humoristic style it might “ hit at a similar set of underlying values” Lyttle,( 2001), a shared sense of humor can be a very powerful connection Seitar and Grass (2004. Describe a compliance tactic by referred as “liking and similarity” having shared similarity to the target could increase the likability of the message sender and increase the influence of the message sender (p.209). Including humor, similarities can be shared across a range of characteristics.
Another place we can see humor is seen effectively contributing the creditability of a message source during persuasion is when the message sender uses humor humbling or humor that causes the message sender to appear modest. Lyttle, (2001) expects “ that the uses of self-effacing humor by a source would increase the effectiveness of a persuasive message” (p. 208) Although this may be true since a message sender who is able and also wiling to laugh at him or herself tends to give off the impression that they are more believable and or trustworthy.
Additionally creating positive attributes for the source of the persuasive message, Osterhouse and Brock (1970) suggest that humor may be able to alter how a message receiver processes a persuasive message, in which is detailed by the Elaboration Like hood Model. What humor could be capable of is “ blocking systematic and central processing by distracting receivers from constructing counter arguments” (Lyttle, 2001).