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Title:Dissecting frogs: The effect of humorous political advertisements on candidate evaluations
Author(s):Marshall, Richard Henry
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kuklinski, James H.
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Business Administration, Marketing
Political Science, General
Mass Communications
Abstract:This dissertation examines the role of humor in political campaigns, with a primary focus on candidate evaluations. The use of humor by candidates in campaigns, though widespread in the political arena, has been largely ignored by mainstream political science. This neglect is unfortunate because of the importance that many candidates place on humor, to the extent of hiring professional comedy writers to help with speeches and spending precious advertising dollars on humorous commercials. Specifically, this research attempts, utilizing experimental methods, to determine if humor used in real political commercials helps increase or decrease positive judgments of candidates.
The findings indicate that the use of humor in a political advertisement may not always benefit a candidate, especially if the humorous segment is separated from the candidate. But when humor comes from the mouth of the candidate directly, it does increase the subsequent evaluations of that candidate. Two important results should be noted. One, humor seems to have a polarizing effect on audiences, with possible risks or reward associated with its use. Two, the relationship between the number of jokes in a political commercial and evaluation of the candidate is non-linear. As the amount of humor in a political commercial increases, it must reach a threshold level in order to gain a more positive evaluation than had no humor been used. In addition, there appears to be a level of diminishing returns as the amount of humor increases.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Marshall, Richard Henry
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9702599
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9702599

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