I blogged two April fool jokes this morning – from Joshua Gans and Google. Now that noon has passed, we can ask the question, was I wise to do so? Fortunately, new academic research on the topic sheds direct light on the question.
The effect of humor in electronic service encounters
Willemijn M. van Dolena,Â Ko de Ruyterb,Â and Sandra Streukensb
Journal of Economic Psychology
By means of an experimental design, we investigate the moderating effect of humor on the interplay between process and outcome in terms of customer evaluations of the electronic service encounter. We conclude that a favorable process mitigates an unfavorable outcome in terms of enjoyment, satisfaction, and behavioral intentions when related humor is included on the website. Contrary, on a non-humorous website, the functional process has no effect when outcome is negative. However, in addition to the positive, compensatory effect, we find that for websites that are unfavorable in terms of process and outcome, the use of related humor causes more negative customer evaluations compared to a non-humorous website.
So if I understand the results, humour is good if your website is well set-up, but bad if it isn’t.