"He comes from the land of the ice and snow": the moderating role of information on counterarguing candidate-related messages in "The Colbert Report"

Myers, Michaele D.
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University of Delaware
This study explores the moderating role of information when counterarguing a persuasive message about a candidate in the context of political humor. As the genre of political humor grows, so too does the need to understand the effect of potentially critical information on one's cognitive processes. While recent research has indicated that individuals are less likely to counterargue a humorous persuasive message due to either message discounting (Nabi, Moyer-Guse & Byrne, 2007) or resource allocation (Young, 2008), studies have yet to discuss what role information may play in thwarting the effects of humor on one's argument scrutiny The results of an online experiment indicate that information exposure does play a moderating role in counterargumentation, but negatively in the presence of humor. Although exposure to information positively influenced one's processing ability and motivation when exposed to humor, it did not influence depth processing, which is a necessary process needed to counterargue a message. The study also found no significant difference in candidate favorability between conditions, indicating cable news is just as likely to negatively impact favorability as political humor. Implications on manipulating knowledge in the Elaboration Likelihood Model and political humor research are discussed.