Gender effects of sexual humor in advertising




Goetz, Harold, 1965-

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Since our early days of childhood, we have often heard "No two people are alike." We look, sound and act differently from each other. Common sense would tell us that different stimuli would effect us, for lack of better terminology, differently. Humor has its own differing effects. Whereas some people may laugh so hard from a joke that their eyes may begin to tear, others may be offended and insulted at the very same joke, or may not find it funny at all. Humor is very popular in advertising. Estimates for the use of humor in advertising range from 15% to 42% of all advertisements (Kelly & Solomon, 1975; Madden & Weinberger, 1984). It would seem that humor must have some type of effect upon viewers/readers/etc. for it to be used so often. The question raised, however, is "Are all people affected similarly by sexual humor in advertising?" Doubtful, but to answer this question, we must first review how and why humor works in regard to advertising. Later, we will address the main question of this study - "How are men and women affected by sexual humor in advertising?" As we will see, men and women do not always react similarly to humorous advertising. This study attempts to identify a style of humor men and women are affected by (sexual humor), and how their reactions vary. If the basic principle of humor is "intent to be humorous", it is important to review the relationships to be studied in analyzing reactions to humor in advertising. One key variable is perceived humor. Just because an ad was designed to be humorous, not everyone will feel it actually was. Although this study will not focus on degrees of perceived humor, it is important to note that the advertisements used in this study were pre-tested for humorous content. This study focuses on several variables that humorous advertising may affect. The variables to be studied include: attitudes toward the brand, product and the ad, recall of the product, brand and the commercial's copy points, purchase intention, irritation elicited by the advertisement, attention paid to the ad and the number of counterarguments generated by the individual's response to the message. Chapter 1 presents a discussion of how humor has been operationalized in the past, while chapter 2 offers a look at humor's effects in the field of advertising. Chapter 3 more presents a review of studies related to humor and gender, while chapter 4 offers some ideas as to how humor works. Hypotheses for this study are offered in chapter 5 with the methodology discussed in chapter 6. Results and a discussion follow in chapters 7 and 8, respectively