A leader or a comedian? Perceptions of politicians based on their use of humor on Twitter

Andrés Mendiburo-Seguel, Hannah Buie, Stéphanie Alenda, Patricio Navia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Politicians are tasked with both holding expertise and being relatable to the general population they are representing. Accordingly, politicians strategize their communication style to achieve both aims. One strategy they implement is using humor in their communication to constituents. But is this an effective strategy across humor styles? Does political affiliation or gender of the politician impact these effects? We examine these questions in an online experiment with Chilean subjects (N = 799) using tweets from fictitious politicians, finding evidence that both serious and humorous aggressive communication had negative outcomes on social perception of the politician compared to affiliative and self-deprecating communication. Both serious and humorous affiliative communication has a positive outcome on social perceptions compared to aggressive and most self-deprecating communications. Also, self-deprecating humor was a moderately effective communication strategy, and political affiliation did not have an effect on perceptions of likability when affiliative humor was used. Finally, we did not find evidence of differences in social perceptions based on the gender of the politician.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-49
Number of pages25
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • political communication
  • political humor
  • Twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


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