Essay Sample on Humor & Persuasion: Exploring the Connections

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1262 Words
Date:  2023-01-10


Humor has been described as a text or message that is conveyed through music, writing, speech or actions (Lyttle, 2001, pp. 10). This meaning is credited using the dictionary method and comparing it the definition of Professor Victor Ranskin who characterized it as jokes in the form of a text. Generally, humor's definition varies with different aims to the individual, and there is no specific definition of this word. Persuasion is described as a fruitful deliberate action aimed at influencing another person's state of mind through communication where the persuaded is given some freedom of choice (Lyttle, 2001, pp. 63). Humor can be merged with persuasion in many cases where the effectiveness is varied with the beholder. The relationship between humor and persuasion has been seen in business and advertisement worlds in various ways and has resulted in several impacts. However, when humor is used in persuasion, some risks may be encountered as well as the positive effects of using this method. The essay shall discuss three major effectiveness and risks of using humor in persuasion in different dimensions.

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Effectiveness of Humor

According to studies done by researchers on the efficacy of humor in the advertisement dimension, humor draws attention and improves the amiability of advertisements (Cline, 1999). However, there is no indication of its significance in enhancing understanding. These studies investigated ads on radios, magazines, and on television (Weinberger & Campbell, 1991, Madden & Weinberger, 1982, and Stewart, & Furse, 1986) indicates that humorous advertisements are gaining more attention as opposed to non-humorous ones. The ideal prospect of psychology suggests that increased attention creates more widespread dispensation. Business wise, grown awareness in a particular brand improves the market affinity, therefore, boosting the market of that specific commodity. Consequently, the effective use of humor is associated with business success. However, the fact that humor improves the privilege of a product does not propose a regulating role in shaping the persuasive impacts of advertisements.

Humor has also been practically evaluated in its effectiveness by several researchers in the teaching platform. Teachers use humor to break the monotony of the class. This can be in the form of a joke or an irrelevant statement that distracts the students' attention from the main topic of discussion. This helps to impact learning by arousing students' interests. It also aids the teacher in illustrating their concepts, increase student's enthusiasm through closeness, and builds a connection between teachers and students. Petty and Cacioppo stated that intentionally distracting participants while engaging in a topic that they have prior knowledge about helps to break their persuasion resistance. Use of humor is the most effective method of breaking persuasion resistance, especially in high involvement topics. It is considered as a blockage of possible sub-vocal counter arguments developed by the receiver of information. This effectiveness is relatable to the superiority theory of humor which explains the valuable effects of fun on physical and psychological health.

Thoughtful and cautious use of humor in the workplace helps to augment leadership attractiveness and suppleness. This helps in boosting job satisfaction since it creates a pleasant atmosphere. However, a stressful environment in the workplace may lead to aggression. Humorous interaction between workmates can be used to evaluate the level of job satisfaction. Working in a funny environment has been embraced by many companies as a way of imparting loyalty and commitment in employees (Lehmann-Willenbrock & Allen, 2014). Employers have an assured workplace motivation without additional finances or sharing of power. In order to have an exciting workplace, there must be team cohesion; this can be given by humorous interactions and is essential to critical practical personnel. According to George Milner (1972), laughter, which has been considered as adaptive humor helps to break people up when being too serious on some matters (Lyttle, 2001). Therefore breaking the continuity of flow of work in workplaces using humor is an essential tool in creating a fun working environment. However, according to investigations posted on a journal of the International Society for Humor Studies humor at the workplace is at the infancy stage though it is widely considered essential by management.

Risks of Humor in Persuasion

Persuasion is accounted for by only a strong effort to influence another person's mental state. This can be achieved through communication. In this case, the persuaded has the freedom to become influence or not. Therefore, proper use of humor can aid in this process, though, several risks are associated with it. They include the risk of the distraction of the primary subject matter, risk of unfavorable influence on consumers when used on ads, and interruption of dispensation.

Use of humor may increase attention but disrupt the dissemination of message contained at the same time. Increased attention may sway the consumers from focusing on a particular product to focus more on the humorous part of the ad and cause diversion from its claims. According to Smith (1993) for instance, the use of humor in a life insurance advertisement would be inappropriate since it shall not enhance the argument contained (Cline and Kellaris, 1999). More so, as far as humor enhanced brands' and ads' strength, in high levels of dealings such as the purchase of computers, may demand more depth in the argument to facilitate the dissemination of the content message.

When the persuasive message is in line with the positions held by the consumers, a successful attitude change on consumers is generated. However, when humor is applied during message delivery, the presentation of the message is distracted. The primary subject matter is at times distracted. Logically, human tend to assimilate humor faster than a critical issue. When delivering a more important message, use of humor may distract delivery of message. For instance, if the joke was very funny, then the rest of the session may be distracted by laughter or withdrawal of attention in the main subject matter.

Humor may also result in the development of a negative attitude on the receivers of information. When humor is used in a context where it is inappropriate, the source may be perceived as a joker. Prolonged use of inappropriate text maybe fun for some people and disgusting to others (Cline and Kellaris, 1999). Moreover, the interpretation of humor depends on the type of receiver getting the message. Therefore, the use of humor poses the risk of negative attitude formation regarding the individual associated.


In Summary, humor can be advantageous or disadvantageous when used in the conveyance of the message. It increases the attention of a particular product when used on advertisements. It also helps in imparting learning by breaking class monotony. In workplaces, humor has been effectively used to create a pleasant working environment as well as improving employees' loyalty to work. Thus it helps to reduce investments used in enticing workers. However, humor is also risky to use in various circumstances. It might create a negative attitude on the receiver, cause distraction of message, and affect the dissemination of the main subject matter. Therefore, humor is a proper tool in communication but should be moderated with the need of the receiver as well as the environment of use.


Cline, T. W, and Kellaris, J. (1999). The Joint Impact of Humor and Argument in Print Advertising Context: A case for Weaker Arguments. 16:1, 69-86. Retrieved from;<69::AID-MAR5>3.0.CO;2-9.

Lehmann-Willenbrock, N., & Allen, J. A. (2014). How Fun are Your Meetings? Investigating the Relationship Between Humor Patterns in Team Interactions and Team Performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99(6), 1278-1287.

Lyttle, J. (2001). The Effectiveness of Humor in Persuasion: The Case of Business Ethics Training, The Journal of General Psychology, 128:2, 206-216, DOI: 10.1080/00221300109598908

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