New Study Suggests Political Candidates Shouldn’t Use Humor on Social Media

New research supported by the Ohio State University found that when political candidates try to be funny on social media it could backfire when it comes to gaining new supporters.

When it came to political candidates that voters were not familiar with, the study found that voters are more likely to view the use of humor by that unfamiliar candidate as inappropriate. The study also showed that voters saw that unfamiliar candidate who used humor as less credible and thereby less likely to get their vote.

The authors of the study warned that political candidates should be cautious about the use of humor on social media. Even though, generally speaking, the general populace is encouraged to be less formal on social media this does not apply to politicians from whom voters expect seriousness and competence, even on social media.

In this study, subjects reacted to social media posts from an invented candidate (so none of the subjects would have had any prior experience with them). It is possible the rules might be different for widely known politicians such as the President or the Speaker of the House.

The study was published in “Communication Research Reports.”