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Danna Young, University of Delaware

Why is political satire so liberal? How ideology and personality predict humor appreciation: The liberal nature of satire is often attributed to its tendency to challenge the status quo, a phenomenon that is inherently liberal in nature. However, given that the most common rhetorical structures of satire are cognitively taxing and ambiguous, perhaps such texts are more appreciated by individuals higher in need for cognition and tolerance for ambiguity. Since research has indicated both of these personality traits are more prevalent among liberals than conservatives (Jost & Amodio, 2010; Sargent, 2004; Wiersema, van der Schalk, & van Kleef, 2011), it follows that liberal individuals may be more appreciative of humor that involves cognitive complexity, and whose meaning is implicit rather than explicit. In this talk, I will present the results of an online experiment conducted to test these propositions (N = 305) in March 2015. Dannagal G. Young is an Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Delaware and a Fellow of the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication. For the past decade, she has studied the content, audience, and effects of non-traditional political information, particularly political satire. Dr. Young’s research on media effects and the cognitive implications of political humor have appeared in books and journals including The Columbia Journalism Review, Media Psychology, Political Communication, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, and Mass Communication and Society.

About the Speaker

Dannagal G. Young, Professor of Communication and Political Science at the University of Delaware, is an APPC sabbatical scholar who will be at the policy center part-time during the fall 2023 semester. Young (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication, 2007), who is also a distinguished research fellow at APPC, studies the content, audience, and effects of nontraditional political information. She has published over 60 academic articles and book chapters on the content, psychology, and effects of political information, satire, and misinformation. Her current book, Wrong: How Media, Politics, and Identity Drive our Appetite for Misinformation with JHU Press, is available for preorder and will be published in fall 2023. Her book Irony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laugher in the U.S. examines satire and outrage as the logical extensions of the respective psychological profiles of liberals and conservatives (Oxford University Press, 2020: here). Young’s 2020 TED Talk explaining how our psychology shapes our politics, and how media exploit these relationships, has been viewed over 1.9 million times. A research fellow with the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication, she was awarded the University of Delaware's Excellence in Teaching Award in 2014. In recognition of her public-facing work, in 2021, she became the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Robert M. Entman Award in Democracy and Political Communication from the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University.