Very often we see people begging in the street. Very different ways of begging can be observed, such as playing instruments, using kids/animals/ disabilities, plain begging or in some cases humor. In the link above we can observe several examples of begging using humor to attract attention and increase possibility of a donation.
An empirical study from Geuens and Pelsmacker (2002) provides evidence that using humor in persuasive messages does increase positive affect towards the advertised product. There were 510 participants in this study and both humorous and non-humorous advertising stimuli were used to show that humor has a positive impact on the attitudes of both high and low Need For Cognition-individuals, but that attitude formation takes place in different way. In individuals low in NFC a direct effect of humor on attitudes is found, while for individuals high in NFC and indirect influence via biased cognition is found.
Eight fictitious advertisements were made in four different products: paper handkerchiefs (low in involvement, informational product) insurance (high in involvement, informational product) a snack (low in involvement, transformational product) and holidays (high in involvement, transformational product). Two versions were used: humorous with slogans and pictures, and non-humorous just with slogans. Perceived humor, need for cognition and attitudes towards ad were all measured. Need for cognition didn’t exert any influence on number of positive ad cognitions but high NFC-individuals did have more negative cognitions towards ad. Use of humor had a positive impact on all affective responses increasing the number of positive cognitions towards ads and decreasing the number of negative ones.
The results from this experiment could be also relevant for begging, as the humor would increase the positive response towards the person and hence the possibility of the passerby giving money.
Geuens, M. & De Pelsmacker, P. (2002). The role of humor in the Persuasion of individuals varying in need for cognition. Advances in Consumer Research, Volume 29, pp 51-55.