Humor in Advertizing

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  • Topic: Theories of humor, Humour, Comedy
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ON HUMOR AND HUMOR IN ADVERTISING by PAUL SURGI SPECK, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. A DISSERTATION IN BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of Texas Tech University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

Approved

Accepted

December, 1987

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Wo./;?

MESSAGE PROCESSING

-> MESSAGE EFFECTS

Fig.

1.1.

The research model frequently used in current humor appeals research.

By contrast, this dissertation suggests that research into humor's communication effects requires a fuller and more complex conceptual model (see figure 1.2). This expanded model implies (1) that humor is multidimensional, (2) that humor is a family of related

The Semiotic Relationship Between Humor and Message

HUMOR 1, HUMOR 2 AND HUMOR 3 A (Multiple Processes and Multiple Effects) ^

A

THE MESSAGE-

Central Route or Peripheral Processing

MESSAGE -^ EFFECTS

Fig.

1.2.

The proposed research model for humor appeals research.

8 phenomena which involve somewhat different processes that produce somewhat similar effects, (3) that the effect of humor largely depends on the type of message processing employed, and (4) that the specific relationship of humor elements to message elements determines the potential influence of one on the other. The current research model requires conceptual modification in several areas. Chapters 2 to 4 address these conceptual issues.

Chapter 2 presents evidence concerning the multidimensionality of humor. Chapter 3 discusses message structure, message processing and Then, using the

their implications regarding the effect of humor.

theoretical foundation laid out in chapters 2 and 3, chapter 4 develops a taxonomy of humorous message types. Chapters 5 to 8 test the descriptive and experimental value of the proposed model. Chapter 5 reviews several bodies of literature Chapter 6 describes an

concerned with humor's communication effects.

experiment designed to consider those humorous message forms most relevant to television advertising. Chapter 7 reports experimental Chapter 8 reports

results related to processing measures.

experimental results related to various attitude measures. Different models of humor response have been proposed to address different types of humor. By and large, these individual models are

not sufficiently integrated nor sufficiently general to address all the humor types encountered in advertising. Consequently, the author

must first develop an appropriate model of humor and humor response. This model must be robust enough to accommodate all species of humor and yet complex enough to account for significant differences in their

effects.

Theoretical and empirical support for this model is drawn Since humor response research

primarily from humor response research.

is very interdisciplinary, the literature reviewed in chapter 2 represents a wide range of traditions and disciplines. After thoroughly reviewing this humor response literature, the author suggests (1) that humor is a multidimensional construct, (2) that there are three distinct subspecies of humor (HI, H2, H3), (3) that each subspecies involves the subject in a different level of processing, (4) that the three underlying humor dimensions (H1-H3) occur in five humor type combinations (HT1-HT5), and (5) that each humor type has a different potential for influencing a message. The final part of chapter 2 suggests that this multidimensional model of humor response is consistent with Freud's work on jokes and several major theories from social and cognitive psychology, including schematic processing, social judgment theory, variable perspective theory, and balance theory. Chapter 3 suggests that differences in message processing can influence the significance of humor within the message. Using the

Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) of attitude change developed by Petty and Cacioppo, the author suggests...
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