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Political News with a Dash of Humour is How Millennials Want to Remember it, Finds New Study

Representative Image

Representative Image

A study done by University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University found that millennials want political news to be presented with little humour, to make it worth remembering and sharing. Such news are also found to increase the brain activity.

If you want social media-savvy young adults and millennials to listen to hard news, deliver the content with a pinch of humour as this will help them more likely to remember and share it on various digital platforms.

New research, published in the Journal of Communication, suggests that humour may help keep people informed about politics.

The team from the University of Pennsylvania and the Ohio State University found that when compared to non-humorous news clips, viewers are not only more likely to share humorously presented news, but are also more likely to remember the content from these segments.

“For democracy to work, it is really important for people to engage with news and politics and to be informed about public affairs," says senior author Emily Falk, Professor of Communication, Psychology, and Marketing at University of Pennsylvania. “We wanted to test whether humour might make news more socially relevant, and therefore motivate people to remember it and share it."


The researchers recruited young adults (18-34 years old) to watch a variety of news clips, which they designed to vary, so that some ended with jokes and others did not.

In addition to collecting data on participants’ brain activity using fMRI technology, the researchers administered a memory test to determine how much information participants retained from watching the clips. The researchers also asked participants to answer questions about how likely they would be to share the news clips with others.

Participants were more likely to remember information about politics and government policy when it was conveyed in a humorous rather than non-humorous manner and were more willing to share the information online. The findings showed that humorous news clips elicited greater activity in brain regions associated with thinking about what other people think and feel, which highlights the social nature of comedy.

“The findings show that humor stimulates activity in brain regions associated with social engagement, improves memory for political facts, and increases the tendency to share political information with others," says lead author Jason Coronel, Assistant Professor of Communication at Ohio State.

This is significant because entertainment-based media has become an important source of political news, especially for young adults.

“The results suggest that humour can increase knowledge about politics," the authors noted.

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