Not all groups are equal : differential vulnerability of social groups to the prejudice-releasing effects of disparaging humor

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Shane Rydell Triplett (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Thomas Ford

Abstract: Research has shown that sexist humor allows men to express sexism by replacing nonsexist norms in a situation with a norm of tolerance of sex discrimination (Ford, Armstrong, & Edel, 2008). Our study extends those findings by testing the hypothesis that disparaging humor fosters the "release" of prejudice against only groups for whom society’s attitudes are ambivalent and thus for whom the expression of prejudice is dependent on immediate social norms to justify it (e.g., women, homosexuals). The expression of prejudice against groups like racists is socially acceptable and should not be dependent on events like disparaging humor to justify it. Consequently, disparaging humor should have little effect on the release of prejudice against them. One hundred sixty four participants completed measures of prejudice against homosexuals and racists (Cotrell & Neuberg, 2005). Participants read four jokes that disparaged homosexuals, or racists, or that contained no disparaging content. Next, participants allocated budget cuts to four student organizations including one that either supported racist or homosexual agendas. Results supported our hypothesis. Prejudice against homosexuals predicted the amount of money participants cut from the homosexual organization relative to the others upon exposure to anti-homosexual jokes (ß = .61, p < .001) but not neutral jokes (ß = .10, ns) or anti-racist jokes (ß = .13, ns). In contrast, attitudes toward racists did not differentially predict budget cuts allocated to the racist organization upon exposure to anti-racist jokes (ß = .30, ns), neutral jokes (ß = .12, ns) or anti-homosexual jokes (ß = .12, ns).

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Attitudes, Discrimination, Homosexuals, Humor, Prejudice, Stigma
Wit and humor -- Psychological aspects
Sexism in language

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