The Role of Humor in Messaging about the MMR Vaccine

Emily Moyer-Gusé, Melissa J. Robinson, Jessica Mcknight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases have increased due, in part, to misconceptions about vaccine safety (Kennedy et al., 2011). Extant literature has examined various messages designed to correct false beliefs about vaccination risks and to urge parents to vaccinate their children. The present study is designed to contribute to this literature by drawing on the broader research and theory on resistance to persuasion and correcting false beliefs. We examine the effects of a humorous (vs. non-humorous) message about the importance of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine on parents’ vaccine hesitancy. Results revealed that compared to a more serious message, a satirical message reduced reactance and led to greater perceptions of measles severity, which reduced vaccine hesitancy. Practical and theoretical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)514-522
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 3 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences


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