A dual-processing approach to the effects of viewing political comedy

Full article citation: Warner, B.R., Hawthorne, H.J., and Hawthorne, J. (2015) “A dual-processing approach to the effects of viewing political comedy.” Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 28(4), 541-558. doi: 10.1515/humor-2015-0099.

Abstract: Stephen Colbert’s announcement that he would take over Late Night for David Letterman signaled the end of nearly a decade long project in political satire. The evolution of political humor since Colbert began his satirical news program has been accompanied by a dramatic expansion in scholarly understanding of the effects of political comedy. This study contributes to research on the effects of political comedy by adopting a dual-processing approach to determine if exposure to political comedy can affect the political knowledge and attitudes of viewers. Two experiments were conducted to test the learning and persuasive effects of viewing a single clip from Colbert’s well-documented Super PAC parody. The first demonstrated that exposure to Colbert’s Super PAC programming generated modest short-term issue recognition characteristic of online learning. The second experiment demonstrated a substantial priming effect such that viewing argumentative forewarning in a Colbert segment about Super PAC attack ads significantly diminished the persuasive effect of those attacks.

Keywords: political communication, political comedy, satire, parody, political knowledge, priming

Here is a link to a PDF of the article.