Jennifer P. McDavid

Jennifer P. McDavid

Truman State University

Businiess Administration - Marketing


Mentor: Lucy L. Henke, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Marketing

The Effectiveness of Humor in Advertising Media Depending on an Individual's Need for Cognition

Over the past 25 years, numerous humor studies have been conducted to measure the effectiveness of humor though the results have been inconsistent as well as inconclusive. There has been an ongoing debate among students of advertising whether humor has a positive, negative, or indeed any influence on the effectiveness of the advertisement.

The focus of this study was to determine the effectiveness of humor in advertising media in terms of message comprehension and purchase intention as related to an individual's need for cognition. Need for cognition can be defined as an individual's intrinsic enjoyment of, and motivation to engage in effortful cognitive information processing (Cacioppo and Petty 1981).

Questionnaires containing two selected humorous vodka advertisements, and one article were given to approximately 50 undergraduate students of varying age. The advertisements were selected from magazines; one advertisement contained text, one did not. The questionnaire was designed to determine the subjects' attitude toward the advertisement, attitude toward the brand, attitude toward the humor of the advertisement, and overall effectiveness of the humorous advertisement. An 18 item Need for Cognition scale was administered following the survey.

The research will provide evidence that indicates that an individual with a low need for cognition will be favorable toward humorous advertisements that contain text, while an individual with a high need for cognition will be favorable to humorous advertisements that do not contain text.

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