Institut für Kommunikationswissenschaft und Medienforschung (IFKW)




The influence of humorous-intended communication on political decision-making in the context of climate change

The Bavarian Research institute for Digital Transformation (bidt) Is funding a new interdisciplinary consortium project on how humorous-intended media can influence political decision-making in the context of climate change. In the project Prof. Dr. Mario Haim and Dr. Jörg Haßler work together with Prof. Dr. Björn Ommer (Computer Vision & Learning Group), and Prof. Dr. Barbara Plank (AI and Computational Linguistics).


The research project KLIMA-MEMES explores the question of what influence humorous-intended memes texts, images, and videos - shared online on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok - have on political decision-making.

Climate change is a pressing problem facing humanity and a major polarizing topic in public discourse. Discussions on climate change pervade political agendas worldwide. IPCC experts agree that currently implemented measures against climate change are inadequate in their efforts. Information akin to this often rapidly breaks into social media spheres (e.g. Instagram and TikTok) in increasingly visual and often humor-driven attention cycles. The KLIMA-MEMES project will analyze how such communication in the form of memes or other visual media with an intent to be humorous can affect political decision-making.

Given this background, the project will investigate this research gap by a) methodically utilizing machine vision and natural language processing in a political and strategic communication context, b) conceptually and empirically tracing public negotiation processes about memes and their influence on political decision makers, and c) theoretically combining modern approaches of diffusion theory with older approaches of agenda setting as well as more recent approaches to the impact of visual communication in a sustainable way.

The goals of the project are to:

  1. establish an interdisciplinary survey and measurement tool for textual and visual content in social media,
  2. empirically analyze humorous-intended public communication and itsdiffusion in the context of UN climate conferences, and
  3. empirically test the influence of such content and its diffusion on the political decision-making of members of the German Bundestag.

Prof. Dr. Mario Haim and Dr. Jörg Haßler are joined in the KLIMA-MEMES project by their LMU colleagues Prof. Dr. Björn Ommer, head of the Computer Vision & Learning Group, and Prof. Dr. Barbara Plank, chair for AI and Computational Linguistics.

The project will start in the first half of 2023 and is supported by the bidt for two plus one years.

More information on the project can be found in the official press release by the bidt.