The effect of science comedy on perceptions of scientists and scientific messages.

Paper accepted for presentation at the AAAS 2020 conference, Seattle, WA.

Abstract: Humor is an important conduit for public engagement with science that is often recommended for scientists looking to conduct communication activities despite relatively little empirical evidence demonstrating its effectiveness. Here, we examine the social environment of a joke through a two-condition experimental design that manipulates the presence or absence of audience laughter. Specifically, we examine how perceived humor from viewing a video clip of a science comedian embedded in an online survey can have downstream effects on whether people view comedy as a valid source of scientific information. We found that respondents who perceived more humor in the video clip (i.e., those in the condition with audience laughter) had more positive views about comedy as a valid source of scientific information. Interestingly, this relationship was mediated by perceived expertise, not likability, of the scientist engaging in comedy.

Michael Cacciatore 

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