Date of Award

6-1986

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Communication

Major Professor

Michael F. Singletary

Committee Members

George Everett, Barbara Moore, Kyle Reed, Sam Swan

Abstract

Humor, a natural part of the human environment, is all around us; from newspaper comics and television sit-coms to popular movies and the latest joke. Yet the phenomenon of humor on radio, i.e., humor used by air personalities, has remained largely unstudied.

Can the variation in listener response to radio humor be accounted for? The relationship of five demographic variables to five types of humor was tested by regression analysis. The intent was to learn the extent to which each variable contributed to appreciation of each type of humor.

One hundred sixty subjects were exposed to fifteen humorous radio segments. Subjects were students, club and church members, office workers, and industrial employees. Humor involved sexual, ethnic, and political themes, as well as material related to alcoholic beverages and body type.

Subjects were asked to rate their appreciation of each humor segment on a 100-point scale and then to assess the degree to which they liked the announcer's style or delivery on a 5-point Likert scale.

Mean humor appreciation scores ranges from 55.1 for alcohol humor to 38.2 for political humor. Mean announcer liking scores ranged from 3.2 for alcohol humor to 2.5 for sexual humor.

Regression analysis indicates that liking of the announcer's style of delivery was a highly significant contributor to appreciation of each of the five humor types; age was significant in humor with a sexual, ethnic, or alcohol theme. Gender was significant in ethnic humor only.

This research shows that appreciation of humor can be partially explained by selected demographics. Further research should refine variables used here and propose new variables, such as delivery techniques or personality traits.

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