Abstract

This study considers the effects of consuming late-night political humor on audience members’ individual-level affective political polarization. Existing literature suggests that many late-night comedy television programs already influence viewers’ political engagement, including voting likelihood and political talk likelihood. Programming like The Daily Show (TDS) employs satiric critique within broader parodic framework to engage audience members’ political identities. These identities are incredibly emotional and, combined with comedic capacity to provoke anger, exert significant influence over individual behavioral tendencies. Subsequently, it makes sense to consider the affectively polarizing capacity of these shows— measured both by favorability, or ingroup confidence, and social distance, or hostility towards members of opposing political parties. This study implements experimental research design to test this theory, finding a mildly significant relationship between consumption of TDS and individual-level affective polarization that is heavily mitigated by a variety of other independent variables.

Advisor

Bos, Angela

Second Advisor

Bostdorff, Denise

Department

Communication; Political Science

Keywords

late-night comedy, polarization, political humor, Trevor Noah, Donald Trump

Publication Date

2020

Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

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© Copyright 2020 Nicholas R. Shereikis