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The influence of humor and amusement on mother-adolescent sexual communication

  • Katrina L. Pariera

    Katrina L. Pariera is an Assistant Professor of Communication, with an additional appointment in Sociology, in the Department of Organizational Sciences and Communication at The George Washington University. Her research focuses on the role of emotions in motivating interpersonal communication about sexual health.

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From the journal HUMOR


This study examines the impact of a humorous intervention designed to increase mothers’ intentions to talk to their child about sex (N=442). Mother-adolescent sexual communication has been linked to positive sexual health outcomes for the child, but little is known about how to motivate mothers to engage in this communication. Using the Theory of Planned Behavior, the experiment tests the impact of humor and amusement on attitudes, norms, self-efficacy, and likelihood of future sexual communication. Results reveal that mere exposure to humor can have a negative effect on participants, unless they report being highly amused, in which case their communication attitudes, norms, and intentions are increased. Results are discussed in light of implications for understanding the persuasive effect of humor and amusement on future mother-adolescent sexual communication.

About the author

Katrina L. Pariera

Katrina L. Pariera is an Assistant Professor of Communication, with an additional appointment in Sociology, in the Department of Organizational Sciences and Communication at The George Washington University. Her research focuses on the role of emotions in motivating interpersonal communication about sexual health.


The author would like to thank Dr. Sheila Murphy for her helpful input during the research process.


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Author’s note

The results of this study were part of a larger study on mother-adolescent sexual communication. Researchers considering including this publication in a meta-analysis shouldcontact the author for details.

Published Online: 2017-6-2
Published in Print: 2017-7-26

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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