The viral water cooler: Talking about political satire promotes further political discussion


Much effort has been devoted into understanding the participatory outcomes of political satire. Despite the increased impact of social media in disseminating political information online, however, researchers have not yet examined the potential role of social media in the relationship between political satire consumption and political communication processes. This study uses a three-wave panel survey to test the effects of both viewing political satire (intentionally) and incidental exposure (via shared content on social media) to political satire on political discussion, mediated by the viewers’ conversation about the content of political satire. This study also examines how Affinity for Political Humor (AFPH), specifically its social cohesion dimension, moderates those relationships. Results demonstrate that regardless of whether the exposure was incidental via social media or not, exposure to political satire increased political discussion, mediated by conversation about political satire. This indirect effect differed by individuals’ level of AFPH. These results indicate that viewing political satire, even when it is incidental, can make people more likely to talk about the content of the satire programs, which in turn can promote their political discussion in general. This effect was found to be more prominent among those who score high on AFPH.

Mass Communication and Society
Jacob A. Long
Jacob A. Long
Assistant Professor of Mass Communications