Why puns are a real turn-off

Why puns are a real turn-off

…at least if you’re a politician on Twitter Politicians who want to show off their sense of humour should avoid puns, researchers have found. A new study has shown that wordplay is a turn-off for voters, with candidates who try to inject humour into their tweets seen as less competent than more strait-laced counterparts. The experiment, conducted by Ohio State University, involved 476 college students reading a series of election tweets. Half of the posts used puns like: ‘We are sick of getting bad healthcare. It is time to heal the system,’ while the other half were written in a more direct way, in that case using ‘fix’ rather than ‘heal’. Those seeing the humorous tweets were six per cent less likely to vote for  that candidate, regardless of their age or gender. Lead researcher Olivia Bullock said: ‘Candidates should be cautious about using humour on social media. People have expectations that politicians will show seriousness and competence even on social media, where users are often encouraged to be more informal.’ And she said the fact her findings were universal across all voters was significant. ‘If any group is going to respond positively to humour on social media, the expectation would be that it would be young people. That’s not what we found.” It is possible that the rules may be different for politicians like Donald Trump who are already known, said study co-author Austin Hubner: ‘For candidates who aren’t well-known, using humour may be more of a risk than for established politicians.’ The study was published in the journal Communication Research Reports. – by Steve Bennett Published: 17 Jun 2020
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