Following science on social media: The effects of humor and source likability

Sara K. Yeo, Michael A. Cacciatore, Leona Yi Fan Su, Meaghan McKasy, Liane O’Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Science communicators have been encouraged to use humor in their online engagement efforts. Yet, humor’s effectiveness for engaging people with science remains an open question. We report the results of an experiment designed to elicit varied levels of mirth in respondents, which was positively associated with perceived likability of the communicator and motivation to follow more science on social media. Furthermore, mirth and perceived likability serially mediated the effect of the experimental manipulation on motivation and factual science knowledge served as a moderator. This indicates that, while humor might be an effective means of reaching audiences, downstream effects are likely to vary depending on individuals’ knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)552-569
Number of pages18
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Twitter
  • engagement
  • humor
  • mirth
  • science
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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