Spoofing Presidential Hopefuls: The Roles of Affective Disposition and Positive Emotions in Prompting the Social Transmission of Debate Parody

Jason T. Peifer, Kristen D. Landreville


Exploring factors that contribute to the social transmission of debate parody, this study employs the conceptual lenses of affective disposition and discrete emotions. An online experiment was conducted within days of Saturday Night Live’s original airing of its parody of the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Participants (N = 472) were randomly assigned to view either the parody of the debate or a non-politics-related parody sketch. The debate parody was significantly more mirth and hope inducing when participants had an unfavorable disposition toward Trump; there was no difference in mirth and hope between the exposure conditions among those who had a more favorable disposition toward Trump. Furthermore, mirth and hope were demonstrated to predict willingness to share the humor. Both positive emotions served as significant mediating mechanisms for debate parody’s relationship with willingness to share, as amplified by one’s negative affective disposition for Trump.


emotion, political parody, political humor, affective disposition theory, mirth, presidential debates, Saturday Night Live, sharing

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