Finding Meaning in Memes, Rachel Myers, UG '22, (3963987)
Internet memes are a rapidly evolving form of communication that typically combines language with other modes of communication to create comparisons. These comparisons may become more appealing through the experience of insight and as fluency is developed. Research on the impact of age and experience on meme comprehension is severely lacking. To examine these factors, a set of popular memes was compiled to serve as an objective measure of meme familiarity and a set of novel memes was created to serve as a measure of accuracy in meme comprehension. Sixty-nine participants completed a meme familiarity task, a meme comprehension task, and questions about perceived meme familiarity and weekly social media use. Mixed effects models indicate that self-reported experience is correlated with accuracy scores, but age is not; scores on the meme familiarity task and reported social media use also were not correlated with accuracy. This is the first study, to our knowledge, to test meme comprehension across age groups; the findings indicate that meme comprehension is more reliant on experience than age. Further research is needed to better understand how experience with memes affects meme comprehension.