Restoring Threatened Masculinity: The Appeal of Sexist and Anti-Gay Humor
- 36k Downloads
We propose that men scoring higher in precarious manhood beliefs (PMB) express amusement with sexist and anti-gay humor (but not other forms of humor) in response to masculinity threat in order to reaffirm their masculinity. Accordingly, Experiment 1 (166 heterosexual men in the United States recruited through Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk) supported the hypothesis that men higher in PMB express greater amusement with sexist and anti-gay jokes after experiencing a threat to their masculinity but not in the absence of masculinity threat. Also, the significant positive relationship between PMB and amusement following a masculinity threat was unique to the sexist and anti-gay jokes; it did not emerge for anti-Muslim and neutral jokes. Experiment 2 (221 heterosexual men in the United States recruited through Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk) extended the findings of Experiment 1, supporting the hypothesis that, following a masculinity threat, men higher in PMB express amusement with sexist and anti-gay humor because they believe it reaffirms their masculinity. Thus, our findings suggest that sexist and anti-gay humor serve a self-affirming function for men who possess higher PMB in situations that threaten one’s masculinity. By uncovering a novel psychological function of sexist and anti-gay humor in social settings, we hope the present research will lead to better understandings of the kinds of situations that foster its occurrence and ultimately to strategies for preventing it.
KeywordsMasculinity Sexual prejudice Humor Precarious manhood Gender identity Humor
- Abrams, J. R., Bippus, A. M., & McGaughey, K. J. (2015). Gender disparaging jokes: An investigation of sexist-nonstereotypical jokes on funniness, typicality, and the moderating role of ingroup identification. HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research, 28(2), 311–326. doi: 10.1080/0163853X.2015.1131583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Barker, K. (1994). To be PC or not to be? A social psychological inquiry into political correctness. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 9, 271–281.Google Scholar
- Buck, D., Plant, E. A., Ratcliff, J., Zielaskowski, K., & Boerner, P. (2013). Concern over the misidentification of sexual orientation: Social contagion and the avoidance of sexual minorities. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 941–960. doi: 10.1037/a0034145.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Cottrell, C. A., & Neuberg, S. L. (2005). Different emotional reactions to different groups: A sociofunctional threat-based approach to “prejudice.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 770–789. doi: 10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1240 .
- Ford, T. E., Woodzicka, J. A., Triplett, S. R., Kochersberger, A. O., & Holden, C. J. (2014). Not all groups are equal: Differential vulnerability of social groups to the prejudice-releasing effects of disparagement humor. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 17(2), 178–199. doi: 10.1177/1368430213502558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gruber, J. E., & Bjorn, L. (1986). Women’s responses to sexual harassment: An analysis of sociocultural, organizational, and personal resource models. Social Science Quarterly, 67, 814–826.Google Scholar
- Hayes, A. F. (2012). PROCESS: A versatile computational tool for observed variable mediation, moderation, and conditional process modeling [White paper] . Retrieved from http://www.afhayes.com/public/process2012.pdf. Accessed 1 Aug 2016.
- Jaschik, S. (2016, February 29). When a joke isn’t funny: Online group of scholars of planning and geography divided over one professor’s sexist humor – And how others reacted to it. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/02/29/sexist-joke-leads-debate-and-118-resignations-academic-listserv-planning-and. Accessed 15 July 2016.
- Mailer, N. (1966). Cannibals and Christians. New York: The Dial Press.Google Scholar
- Pleck, J. H. (1981). The myth of masculinity. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Pleck, J. H. (1995). The gender role strain paradigm: An update. In R. F. Levant & W. S. Pollack (Eds.), A new psychology of men (pp. 11–32). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. In W. G. Austin & S. Worchel (Eds.), Psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 7–24). Chicago: Nelson-Hall.Google Scholar
- Zillmann, D., & Cantor, J. R. (1996). A disposition theory of humor and mirth. In A. J. Chapman & H. C. Foot (Eds.), Humor and laughter: Theory, research and applications (pp. 93–116). New York: Wiley & Sons (Original work published 1976).Google Scholar