Frightfully funny

Combining threat and humour in health messages for men and women

Hanneke Hendriks, Loes Janssen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Objective: It is imperative for public health to investigate what factors may reduce defensive responses and increase the effectiveness of health information. The present research investigated gender differences in responses to threatening health-promoting information communicated with humour.
Design: Male and female participants were exposed to a health message stressing the negative consequences of binge drinking (Experiment 1; N = 209) or caffeine consumption (Experiment 2; N = 242), that did or did not contain a funny visual metaphor (Experiment 1) or a slapstick cartoon (Experiment 2).
Main Outcome Measures: Message evaluation, message attention, and attitudes and intentions toward the behaviour were measured.
Results: Results showed that health messages were more persuasive when communicated with humour, although humour played a different role for men and women. Whereas men responded more in line with message goals when the message combined high threat with humour, women preferred the low threat humour messages.
Conclusion: By uncovering the moderating role of gender as a key audience characteristic, this research contributes to designing effective future health campaigns and provides important insights for future studies investigating the underlying mechanisms responsible for the different effects of threat and humour appeals for men and women.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalPsychology & Health
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2017

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Wit and Humor
Metaphor
Marketing

Keywords

  • threat
  • humour
  • gender
  • health campaigns
  • alcohol consumption
  • caffeine use

Cite this

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title = "Frightfully funny: Combining threat and humour in health messages for men and women",
abstract = "Objective: It is imperative for public health to investigate what factors may reduce defensive responses and increase the effectiveness of health information. The present research investigated gender differences in responses to threatening health-promoting information communicated with humour. Design: Male and female participants were exposed to a health message stressing the negative consequences of binge drinking (Experiment 1; N = 209) or caffeine consumption (Experiment 2; N = 242), that did or did not contain a funny visual metaphor (Experiment 1) or a slapstick cartoon (Experiment 2). Main Outcome Measures: Message evaluation, message attention, and attitudes and intentions toward the behaviour were measured.Results: Results showed that health messages were more persuasive when communicated with humour, although humour played a different role for men and women. Whereas men responded more in line with message goals when the message combined high threat with humour, women preferred the low threat humour messages. Conclusion: By uncovering the moderating role of gender as a key audience characteristic, this research contributes to designing effective future health campaigns and provides important insights for future studies investigating the underlying mechanisms responsible for the different effects of threat and humour appeals for men and women.",
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author = "Hanneke Hendriks and Loes Janssen",
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Frightfully funny : Combining threat and humour in health messages for men and women. / Hendriks, Hanneke; Janssen, Loes.

In: Psychology & Health, 2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Frightfully funny

T2 - Combining threat and humour in health messages for men and women

AU - Hendriks, Hanneke

AU - Janssen, Loes

N1 - Both authors contributed equally to this paper

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - Objective: It is imperative for public health to investigate what factors may reduce defensive responses and increase the effectiveness of health information. The present research investigated gender differences in responses to threatening health-promoting information communicated with humour. Design: Male and female participants were exposed to a health message stressing the negative consequences of binge drinking (Experiment 1; N = 209) or caffeine consumption (Experiment 2; N = 242), that did or did not contain a funny visual metaphor (Experiment 1) or a slapstick cartoon (Experiment 2). Main Outcome Measures: Message evaluation, message attention, and attitudes and intentions toward the behaviour were measured.Results: Results showed that health messages were more persuasive when communicated with humour, although humour played a different role for men and women. Whereas men responded more in line with message goals when the message combined high threat with humour, women preferred the low threat humour messages. Conclusion: By uncovering the moderating role of gender as a key audience characteristic, this research contributes to designing effective future health campaigns and provides important insights for future studies investigating the underlying mechanisms responsible for the different effects of threat and humour appeals for men and women.

AB - Objective: It is imperative for public health to investigate what factors may reduce defensive responses and increase the effectiveness of health information. The present research investigated gender differences in responses to threatening health-promoting information communicated with humour. Design: Male and female participants were exposed to a health message stressing the negative consequences of binge drinking (Experiment 1; N = 209) or caffeine consumption (Experiment 2; N = 242), that did or did not contain a funny visual metaphor (Experiment 1) or a slapstick cartoon (Experiment 2). Main Outcome Measures: Message evaluation, message attention, and attitudes and intentions toward the behaviour were measured.Results: Results showed that health messages were more persuasive when communicated with humour, although humour played a different role for men and women. Whereas men responded more in line with message goals when the message combined high threat with humour, women preferred the low threat humour messages. Conclusion: By uncovering the moderating role of gender as a key audience characteristic, this research contributes to designing effective future health campaigns and provides important insights for future studies investigating the underlying mechanisms responsible for the different effects of threat and humour appeals for men and women.

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KW - humour

KW - gender

KW - health campaigns

KW - alcohol consumption

KW - caffeine use

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DO - 10.1080/08870446.2017.1380812

M3 - Article

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SN - 0887-0446

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