It’s Just a Joke: Humor’s Effect on Perceived Sexism in Prejudiced Statements
Bailey, Jonathan Kyle
Humor’s effect was explored on the perception of prejudice. The present study was a counterbalanced 2 (Levity: Humorous, Nonhumorous) x 2 (Gender Targeted by Prejudice: Women, Men) within-subjects design requiring participants to read prejudiced beliefs about men, women, and Texans presented as jokes and blunt statements, and then rate the prejudice expressed by each text on a 5 point Likert scale. The stimuli were developed such that each prejudiced belief was presented within the study as both a joke and blunt, nonhumorous statement, with each participant rating every stimulus for the amount of prejudice it expressed. There was no main effect of Levity, but there was a main effect of Targeted Group such that prejudiced beliefs targeting women were considered more prejudiced than those targeting men. There was also an interaction of Levity and Target Group such that there was no difference between levels of Levity for statements targeting women while jokes targeting men were considered significantly less prejudiced than blunt statements targeting men. Further findings, implications, and future studies are discussed.
Submission to the Friends of Fondren Library Undergraduate Research Awards, 2017. This paper was originally prepared for Course PSYC 340 (Fall 2016): Research Methods for Psychology, given by Professor Özge Gürcanlı, Department of Psychology.
Psychology; disparaging humor; prejudice; sexism