Examining Humor and Persuasion

In such a diverse society, the art of persuasion has become quite complex. There are many different types of people that must be considered when approaching a situation that requires some form of persuasion. While there are many tactics often used to persuade people, one age-old tool remains humor. Humor can be very useful when effectively used, but as we will examine in the following paragraphs, it can also be a double-edged sword.
Humor is a very powerful ally in the persuasion process for many reasons. First, it helps to ease the situation. It can be used as a good ice breaker in presentations or other face to face meetings. Also, humor, when done accurately, can help the audience connect with the presenter. Once the audience connects with the presenter, it will be much easier to make the audience care about the subject at hand. If the issue is salient to them, then they will focus systematically on the message itself and analyze it according to traditional criteria such as logos, pathos, and ethos. If they find the argument compelling, they will become convinced. (Lyttle, 2001). This argument, also known as the systematic processing theory, is very interesting because it also ties in with the common theory that making your message memorable is vital to persuading the consumer.
People are bombarded with messages on a daily basis. In order to be successful, it is important that your message stands out. Humor is a very good way of making your message stand out. One current example of how humor is affecting the advertising industry is the fact that companies spend millions of dollars each year to advertise in the Super Bowl. Every year, the race is on to make the funniest and most memorable commercial of the Super Bowl. It has actually become a tradition all of its own. Part of the fun of watching the Super Bowl is watching the television commercials to see what new, outrageous commercial will be the talk of the evening. In fact, "ABC found that 30 percent of...