Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Humor Sells

Association is one of the most prominent marketing techniques used now days, it can alter the meaning of a concept by linking the issue, event or cause to another positive or negative concept, thereby, transferring the meaning from the second to the first (Pratkanis, 2007).

The study by Strick, van Baaren, Holland and van Knippenberg (2009) investigates this compliance tactic by associating products with humor and reviewing whether this association will result in varying purchase of the two target products. They create a mock magazine and two mock energy drinks (Enorm and Energy Slammers). Participants were then presented with the mock magazine in which one of the energy drinks would consistently be paired with humorous cartoons while the other energy drink was paired with boring cartoons. This was counterbalanced for both energy drinks. Then participants had to complete a priming assessment in which the experimenters determined whether the energy drinks were associated with more positive or negative attributes according to the condition they were in, furthermore they had to indicate which of the two energy drinks they would rather buy.

Results indicate that the mock energy drink associated with humor was surprisingly less recognized than the control energy drink; however, product choice and evaluation of positive characteristics were significantly better for the energy drink paired with humor even within the counterbalance setting.


Pratkanis, A. R. (Ed.). (2007). The science of social influence. Psychology Press.

Strick, M., van Baaren, R. B., Holland, R. W., & van Knippenberg, A. (2009). Humor in advertisements enhances product liking by mere association. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 15, 35.

Jan Paul Huwe

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