Humour Cues to Quality


Carolyn L. Costley and Francoise Graby (1995) ,"Humour Cues to Quality", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, eds. Flemming Hansen, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 358.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, 1995      Page 358


Carolyn L. Costley, University of Waikato

Francoise Graby, Universite Paris, Dauphine

Advertisers worldwide commonly use humourous executions. Anxious to understand its effects, scholars have studied cognitive and affective responses to humour (Weinberger & Gulas 1992). But researchers have mostly ignored humourous messages' impacts on brand perceptions. We sought to extend existing knowledge in two directions. First, we looked beyond ad responses to humour's impact on brand perceptions. Second, we compared the effects of different types of humour.

Our study used Speck's recent typology of humourous messages (1990) to classify the type of humour used by existing television commercials. Then we sought to answer two questions.

* Do different types of humour elicit different perceptions of funniness?

* Does humour type affect brand quality judgments?


Participants viewed a short series of humourous television commercials. Then they completed questionnaires measuring their responses to the ads and to the brands advertised. Repeated measures analysis of variance assessed response differences between the humour types.

The stimulus commercials came from the 1992 London International Advertising Awards, humour division. Two judges used Speck's humourous message taxonomy to classify each commercial's humour type.


* Humour response. In an effort to capture both positive and negative humour response dimensions, we measured both funniness and boredom (Ruch & Rath 1993). Six Likert-type items assessed each dimension.

* Brand judgments. Two items assessed respondents' overall evaluations of the advertised brand. One was an unqualified rating and the other was a relative rating.

* Ad judgments. Three items assessed respondents' attitudes toward the ad, including their evaluation of it as a good ad.


* Perceived ad funniness did not directly affect brand evaluations.

* But, attitude toward the ad influenced brand evaluations and

* perceived funniness (which differed between humour types) influenced attitude toward the ad.


Ruch, Willibald and Sigrid Rath (1993), "The nature of humor appreciation: toward an integration of perception of stimulus properties and affective experience," Humor: International Journal of Humor Research Vol. 6 (4), 363-384.

Speck, Paul Surgi (1990), "The humorous message taxonomy: a framework for the study of humorous ads," Current Issues & Research in Advertising Vol. 13 (1), 1-44.

Weinberger, Marc G. and Charles S. Gulas (1992), "The impact of humor in advertising: a review," Journal of Advertising Vol. 21 (4)m 35-60.



Carolyn L. Costley, University of Waikato
Francoise Graby, Universite Paris, Dauphine


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2 | 1995

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