Persuasion theory was used to develop the following predictions about Lockheed-Martin's Dilbert-based business ethics training: (a) cartoon drawings would enhance liking for the source, (b) ironic wisecracks would distract users from counterargument, and (c) self-effacing humor would enhance source credibility. Canadian business students (n=148) participated in 1 of 4 versions of the game. Removing the cartoon drawings had little effect on the users changing their minds. Removing ironic wisecracks reduced persuasion somewhat. Interfering with the self-effacing combination of cartoons and wisecracks substantially reduced persuasion. Comes out of a part of my 2001 dissertation.
An attempt is made to define humour by looking at the etymology of the word itself, a conceptual map of labels, and an integration of humour theories. The process of humour appreciation is assessed along with the use of humour as a tool. The need for a shared context in order to "decode" humour makes it exclusionary and the existence of a ridiculed target makes humour potentially aggressive. Humour is ethical to the degree that the butt is consenting and/or deserving, and whether there is a fiduciary duty by the initiator. It is hoped that this discussion will stimulate scholars to undertake a careful ethical analysis.
The use of humor as a therapeutic tool is assessed. Dominant humor theories are applied to analyze when humor can be expected to support therapeutic progress. Despite the enthusiasm of its advocates, humor is vulnerable to serving as a distraction or avoidance technique and potentially interferes with the client's trust in a therapist. Considered from the perspective of humor theory, it is easier to predict when humor may go awry and cause clients to simply stop coming to sessions.
With degrees in Philosophy (Wilfrid Laurier), Business (MBA, Western), and Organizations (Ph.D., York), Dr. Lyttle describes himself as a recovering academic who taught at Penn State and the University of Minnesota before retiring in 2016. He is a former musician/vocalist, bandleader, musical arranger, and theatrical lighting designer who studies the effective and responsible use of humour.
© 2016, Jim Lyttle, Ph.D.