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Humor and Persuasion

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Humor and Persuasion
July 30, 2012
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Humor and Persuasion

Do you think of yourself as funny, humorous or a joker of sorts? Many people feel they have what it takes to bring humor to different situations. Usually humor is used to lighten a mood or attitude and often makes people feel happy. Understanding that humor can play a very important role in speech enhance the awareness of the proper means and tactics in which to use humor. Persuasion often includes various forms of humor where the person trying to persuade intertwines the humor effect and brings lightness to the situation. Persuasion is the attempt to make others believe or comply with the speaker’s views or actions and adding humor often enables the audience to feel compelled to match their views with the speaker’s own views. Humor is said, on more than one occasion, to be effective in persuasion but with the effectiveness also comes the associated risks.

In the Journal of General Psychology, a study was done by Jim Lyttle, where he researched the effectiveness of humor and persuasion. He used business ethics training while trying to determine if humor plays a role and how much in persuasion. Cartoon images as well as wisecracks were used in the study to see which the audience responded to more. The basic study was, ““The Ethics Challenge," a training exercise used by the Lockheed Martin Corporation. Three versions were modified by adding or removing cartoon drawings (of cartoon characters Dilbert and Dogbert) and humorous responses (Dogbert's wisecracks). Removing the cartoon drawings had little effect on persuasiveness. Removing ironic wisecracks had more effect, and interfering with the self-effacing combination of cartoons and wisecracks had the strongest effect. The results suggest that researchers should ground their predictions in existing theory and that practitioners should differentiate among humor types.”(Lyttle 206-16) Understanding the study and seeing the...