Humor Can Help People Remember Political News, Research Finds

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. relay / rɪˈleɪ / (v) – to pass on information, a message, etc.

    I wasn’t there when the incident happened, so my brother relayed the news to me.

  2. conclude / kənˈklud / (v) – to end or finish

    The meeting concluded at 5 p.m.

  3. end on a serious note / ɛnd ɒn ə ˈsɪər i əs noʊt / (idiom) – to finish a conversation, speech, etc. with a serious mood or feeling

    The president’s speech ended on a serious note.

  4. elicit / ɪˈlɪs ɪt / (v) – to bring about a response, reaction, etc. from someone or something

    They showed a dramatic clip to elicit tears from the audience.

  5. keep up to date / kip ʌp tə deɪt / (idiom) – to keep someone informed about something

    I always read fashion magazines to keep up to date with the latest trends.


Read the text below.

New research has found that people are more likely to remember political news when it is relayed with humor.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University wanted to find out whether or not humor could cause people to remember and share political news more.

The researchers gathered young adults aged 18 to 34 years old and had them watch a series of news clips. Some of the videos concluded with jokes, while others ended on a serious note. They checked the participants’ brain activity and gave them a memory test to determine how much information they retained from the videos. Additionally, they asked the participants how likely they were to share each news clip with others.

Results showed that the participants were more likely to remember information about politics and the government when the news was presented with humor compared to when it was reported in a serious manner. The participants also said that they were more likely to share humorous news clips.

In addition, the brain scans revealed that funny news clips elicited higher activity in brain regions associated with thinking about others’ thoughts and feelings. According to the researchers, this shows that comedy is a social experience, which means that it is something that people enjoy sharing with others.

Jason Coronel, one of the researchers, said that more and more people are getting their political news from entertainment-focused media. The survey’s findings show that this type of humorous media is an effective way for people to keep up to date with political news.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• After reading the article, do you think news programs/shows should all use a humorous approach? Why or why not?
• Do you think humorous news will get more people to be interested in politics? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Apart from what was mentioned in the article, where else can humor be useful (e.g. advertising, teaching children/teenagers)? Explain.
• When is the use of humor not appropriate (e.g. serious situations, formal occasions)? Discuss.