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Humor Helps: An Experimental Analysis of Pro-Environmental Social Media Communication


  • Therese Bonnici

    (Department of Marketing, Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy, University of Malta, MSD 2080 Msida, Malta)

  • Marie Briguglio

    (Department of Economics, Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy, University of Malta, MSD 2080 Msida, Malta)

  • Glen William Spiteri

    (Department of Economics, Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy, University of Malta, MSD 2080 Msida, Malta)


Communication-based interventions are popular among both governmental and non-governmental organizations in many environmental domains. Yet, studies on the role of humor in social media communication to stimulate pro-environmental behavior have received limited attention. This study employs an experimental approach to assess the effect of using humor (in the form of satirical cartoons) either alongside, or in place of, factual pro-environmental messages in social media communication. It assesses the impact of humor in stimulating a reaction to a pro-environmental message on social media, a share, or a declared intent to change behavior. Our findings reveal that the inclusion of humor elicits a greater response than a factual message alone but that combining a humorous cartoon with a factual text creates the greatest difference. These findings are fairly consistent across six environmental domains and survive formal regression analysis which controlled for the impacts of co-determinants such as age, gender, education, social media engagement, and environmental preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Therese Bonnici & Marie Briguglio & Glen William Spiteri, 2023. "Humor Helps: An Experimental Analysis of Pro-Environmental Social Media Communication," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(6), pages 1-22, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:15:y:2023:i:6:p:5157-:d:1097188

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