Be careful who you single out on April Fools’ Day this year – for one in three Americans, it’s “always” fair game to prank somebody who pranked you first. 

These are the findings from our survey, which asked 1,000 people to indicate whether they thought certain pranks were “always,” “occasionally,” or “never” appropriate to pull on others.

The most taboo prank on the list: “pantsing” someone in public, which 29% of respondents cited as “never appropriate.”

Other unsavory prank ideas included faking a proposal or breakup (28%), changing someone’s phone settings (28%) and tampering with another person’s food (27%).

And while four in 10 (39%) said it’s more than OK to go after a family member on April 1, another one in seven (15%) believe that no one deserves to be a perennial target for pranks.

Another 63% believe it’s possible to go “too far” with a prank or practical joke. 

I don’t like them and wouldn’t do it to someone,” one open-ended response read. “I just remember how awkward it feels when someone does something like that to me and I don’t ever want to make anyone else feel that way. It’s not that I’m a bad sport, I just don’t think it’s funny to mess with others’ emotions.

Graphic showing which generation likes April Fool's Day the most

Despite the potential for hurt feelings, April Fools’ Day still remains a popular holiday for the 64% of respondents who enjoy it.

Age may also play a factor, as Gen Zers were overwhelmingly more keen on the idea compared to other demographics, particularly boomers (83% vs. 43%). 

Overall, more than half (57%) of those polled think the rise of the internet has made April Fools’ Day a better experience.

Fifty-six percent said they get a kick out of prank-themed YouTube channels, and 60% like it when brands participate in the fun, too, so long as no one gets hurt. 

A good prank is one that the ‘victim’ will also laugh at as well when all is said and done,” one respondent wrote. “If the target is left angry, sad, or embarrassed, then your prank was no prank, more a form of bullying or hazing and never appropriate.

In that case, you probably can’t go wrong filling a room full of balloons (58%) – so long as you can handle the payback afterward, of course.

Most taboo pranks

  1. “Pantsing” someone in public (29%)
  2. Catfishing someone (29%)
  3. Faking a proposal or breakup (28%)
  4. Changing someone’s phone settings or contacts (27%)
  5. Tampering with someone’s food or drink (27%)

Most acceptable pranks

  1. Filling a room full of helium balloons (58%)
  2. Putting googly eyes on unexpected household objects (42%)
  3. Posting something false or fake on social media (40%)
  4. Messing with someone who’s fallen asleep (38%)
  5. Intentionally scaring someone (37%)

This OnePoll online survey was conducted in March 2022 with 1,000 Americans. As members of AAPOR – the American Association for Public Opinion Research, OnePoll researchers adhere to the principles and actions set out in the AAPOR Code.

Photo credit: Marija Zaric