People more likely to remember news when it's funny - study

A study has found people are more likely to remember news content when it is funny.
A study has found people are more likely to remember news content when it is funny. Photo credit: Getty Images

Delivering the news using humour is the way to get young people involved and retaining information, according to new research. 

A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that viewers were not only more likely to share a news clip when it was funny but were also more likely to remember the content of the clip.

These findings provided researchers with hope that humour could be used to inform the public on topics such as politics and government policy. 

"For democracy to work, it is really important for people to engage with news and politics and to be informed about public affairs," says Emily Falk, professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

"We wanted to test whether humour might make news more socially relevant, and therefore motivate people to remember it and share it."

The researchers gave a group of 18-34-year-olds a variety of news clips to watch and used fMRI technology to collect data on their brain activity.

Some news clips ended with jokes while others did not.

Participants were then asked questions about the clips to determine how much information they retained as well as whether they would share the clips with others. 

The study found that participants were more likely to remember information about politics and government policy when it was conveyed in a humorous way, they were also more willing to share the information online.

The findings also show that funny news clips trigger greater activity in brain regions associated with thinking about what other people think and feel - researchers saying this "highlights the social nature of comedy".

Lead researcher Jason Croonal says the findings are important as entertainment style news is becoming increasingly popular.

"This is significant because entertainment-based media has become an important source of political news, especially for young adults. Our results suggest that humour can increase knowledge about politics."