Attitudinal research and satire : an exploration of The daily show with Jon Stewart using social judgement theory

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Roth, Marie E.
Shue, Carolyn K.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Communication Studies
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This study explored social judgment theory’s utility in a political comedy context. As a model of attitude change, social judgment theory describes attitude changes that occur in receivers of persuasive messages. Given that the type of humor used in the political comedy context requires the audience to interpret the message, audience processing of the humor is thought to resemble the processing of persuasive messages. This study explored the assumptions of social judgment theory in both a political comedy and a traditional news context. In order to explore how satiric messages impact the attitude change process, clips of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or CBS News programs were shown to participants.Participants reported their attitudes and ego involvement regarding taxes and the job market prior to and after viewing the clips, which allowed attitude change to be identified. In addition, measures of audience activity, including ego involvement and political participation, were collected to explore the interplay of audience activity in attitude change. This project offered some support of social judgment theory’s utility in a political comedy context and reinforced the active audience assumption.