Volume 13 Issue 5
Oct.  2022
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Article Contents
Janna Hämpke, Stefan Röseler, Meinald T. Thielsch. Is Being Funny a Useful Policy? How Local Governments’ Humorous Crisis Response Strategies and Crisis Responsibilities Influence Trust, Emotions, and Behavioral Intentions[J]. International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, 2022, 13(5): 676-690. doi: 10.1007/s13753-022-00436-z
Citation: Janna Hämpke, Stefan Röseler, Meinald T. Thielsch. Is Being Funny a Useful Policy? How Local Governments’ Humorous Crisis Response Strategies and Crisis Responsibilities Influence Trust, Emotions, and Behavioral Intentions[J]. International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, 2022, 13(5): 676-690. doi: 10.1007/s13753-022-00436-z

Is Being Funny a Useful Policy? How Local Governments’ Humorous Crisis Response Strategies and Crisis Responsibilities Influence Trust, Emotions, and Behavioral Intentions

doi: 10.1007/s13753-022-00436-z

We thank Gerrit Hirschfeld and Simon Wilms for their statistical support as well as Marie Kersting for her creative input in developing the study materials. Further, we thank Celeste Brennecka for her very helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.

  • Available Online: 2022-11-01
  • This study is the first to investigate how a local government's humorously framed response strategy on social media to a low-severity crisis influences people's trust in the local government and their crisis-related behavioral intentions, specifically when considering the government's responsibility for the crisis. Based on the situational crisis communication theory, we examined the mediating role of experienced positive or negative affect on people's responses to a local government's crisis communication strategy. Further, we exploratorily examined the predictive power and moderating role of demographics, sense of humor, disposition to trust, and the respective crisis scenarios. A total of 517 people participated in an online experiment in which they were confronted with three randomly presented fictive crisis scenarios where the local government's crisis responsibility (high versus low) and the framing of their crisis response strategy (in form of humorous versus rational Twitter posts) were systematically varied between subjects. First, the results mostly corroborate earlier findings about the degree of crisis responsibility (that is, when a government's crisis responsibility is high, people have less trust and behavioral intentions) and about the mediating role of experienced affect. Second, we found that humorously framed strategies negatively influence trust and positive affect (but not behavioral intentions). In contrast to earlier findings, the crisis responsibility × framing interaction was not significant. Altogether, the results advise against using humor in crisis communications on social media, even in low-severity crisis. Exploratory analyses indicate that further investigations should focus on specific crisis characteristics and potential moderators.
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