While the use of humor appeals has been long researched in the area of advertisement, its role in service recovery is all but non-existent. Using humor during a time of service failure could help a firm diffuse tension with the surprise of eliciting a laugh; however it could also backfire and be perceived as inappropriate. The current study investigates the potential for humor to be utilized in responding to a service failure scenario, and the moderating role of individual differences in need for humor. In a scenario-based experiment, 183 participants were exposed to either a humorous or non-humorous email from a company in response to an imaginary service failure. Results suggest that humor can increase positive perceptions of the firm in areas such as excitement and innovativeness, particularly for those consumers with high need for humor. However, humor also reduces perceptions of firm honesty, regardless of individual differences in need for humor.
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Larson, Lindsay R.L. and Shin, Hyunju, "Comic Relief: The Impact of Humorous Response in Service Recovery on Brand Perceptions" (2018). Association of Marketing Theory and Practice Proceedings 2018. 99.
About the Authors
Dr. Lindsay R.L. Larson Ph.D. Yale University. Associate Professor of Marketing at Georgia Southern University.
Dr. Hyunju Shin Ph.D. University of Alabama. Assistant Professor of Marketing at Georgia Southern University.