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Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 36–41 | Cite as

A lifetime of fear of being laughed at

An aged perspective
  • T. Platt
  • W. Ruch
  • R.T. Proyer
Beiträge zum Themenschwerpunkt

Abstract

This paper reviews recent literature on gelotophobia (i.e., the fear of being laughed at) with an emphasis on age-specific aspects. Research with two instruments, the GELOPH and PhoPhiKat questionnaires, is presented with special attention being given to sociodemographic correlates and differences in intelligence, character strengths, personality, emotion, and humor. Quite consistently gelotophobes tend to misread positively motivated smiling and laughter (e.g. in social interactions, photographs or auditorily presented) and have lower values in many, but not all, components of humor. They have a low propensity to joy and a disposition to experience shame and fear. More generally they tend to describe themselves as being introverted and neurotic, and they underestimate their own potential while not actually being less capable. Furthermore, new data are presented suggesting that age-related vulnerabilities may be additional sources of ridicule making gelotophobia more of a problem for the elderly. Finally, the prevalence of this fear over the lifespan and potential cohort effects are discussed. It is concluded that more research into this fear and its adverse impact on social interactions, even humorous ones, of the elderly is needed.

Keywords

Gelotophobia Elderly Ridicule Laughter Humor 

Die lebenslange Angst vor dem Ausgelachtwerden

Ein alterspezifischer Aspekt

Zusammenfassung

Der vorliegende Artikel bietet, mit dem Hauptaugenmerk auf altersspezifische Aspekte, einen Überblick über die aktuelle Literatur zur Gelotophobie (der Angst vor dem Ausgelachtwerden). Vorgestellt werden Studien, die mit den Fragebögen GELOPH<15>und PhoPhiKat durchgeführt wurden. Dabei wird soziodemographischen Korrelaten sowie Unterschieden hinsichtlich Intelligenz, Charakterstärken, Persönlichkeit, Emotionen und Humor besondere Aufmerksamkeit gewidmet. Ein konsistenter Befund ist, dass Gelotophobiker dazu neigen, positiv motiviertes Lächeln und Lachen (in sozialen Interaktionen, auf Fotos oder akustisch präsentiert) fehlerhaft zu interpretieren. Sie schneiden in vielen, aber nicht allen, Komponenten des Humors mit niedrigeren Werten ab. Darüber hinaus neigen sie wenig zu Freude und zeigen eine Disposition, Scham und Angst zu erleben. Allgemein beschreiben sie sich als introvertiert und neurotisch und unterschätzen ihr eigenes Potenzial, auch wenn sie tatsächlich nicht weniger leisten können als Nichtgelotophobiker. Weiter werden neue Daten vorgestellt, die zeigen, dass altersspezifische Vulnerabilitäten zusätzliche Quellen dafür sein können, ausgelacht zu werden. Das macht Gelotophobie zu einem größeren Problem unter älteren Menschen. Zuletzt werden auch die Prävalenz der Gelotophobie über die Lebensspanne hinweg sowie mögliche Kohorteneffekte diskutiert. Es wird die Schlussfolgerung gezogen, dass es mehr Studien bedarf, die sich dieser Angst und ihren negativen Auswirkungen auf soziale Interaktionen, gerade auch humorbezogene, widmen.

Schlüsselwörter

Gelotophobie Alter Spott Lachen Humor 

Notes

Conflict of interest

The corresponding author states that there are no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ZurichZürichSchweiz

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