Sex Roles

, Volume 27, Issue 11–12, pp 645–664 | Cite as

The role of humor in the interpretation of sexist incidents

  • Brigitte Bill
  • Peter Naus
Article

Abstract

This study investigated the role of humor, gender, and sexist attitudes toward women in the interpretation of sexist incidents. Thirty female and thirty male university students rated the humorousness of and the reactions to recent sexist incidents on Canadian university campuses. As predicted, perceiving sexist incidents as humorous was associated with the tendency to see them as less sexist, to understand the actions and attitudes displayed as more acceptable, and to believe one would have shown approval of the latter. Path analysis indicated that gender did not affect the interpretations of and reactions to these incidents, and that the influence of sexist attitudes toward women was mainly indirect—that is, via their impact on the perception of humorousness.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Adams, K. L., & Ware, N. C. (1984). Sexism and the English language: The linguistic implications of being a woman. In J. Freeman (Ed.),Women: A feminist perspective. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.Google Scholar
  2. Bem, S. (1975). Sex-role adaptability: One consequence of psychological androgyny.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, 634–643.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Benson, P., & Vincent, S. (1980). Development and validation of the sexist attitudes towards women scale (SATWS).Psychology of Women Quarterly, 5, 276–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bird, C. (1968). On being born female.Vital Speeches of the Day, 35, 88–91.Google Scholar
  5. Blau, F. (1986).The economics of women, men and work. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  6. Bleier, R. (1984).Science and gender: A critique of biology and its theories on women. New York: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  7. Brodzinsky, D. M., Barnet, K., & Aiello, J. R. (1981). Sex of subject and gender identity as factors in humor appreciation.Sex Roles, 7, 561–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buhrke, R. A. (1988). Factor dimensions across different measures of sex role ideology.Sex Roles, 18, 309–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cantor J. R. (1976). What is funny to whom? The role of gender.Journal of Communication, 26, 164–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chapman, A. J. (1976). Is sexual humor sexist.Journal of Communication, 26, 141–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chavez, D. (1985). Perpetuation of gender inequality: a content analysis of comic strips.Sex Roles, 13, 93–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Coser, R. L. (1960). Laughter among colleagues. A study of the social functions of humor among the staff of a mental hospital.Psychiatry, 23, 81–91.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Crowne, D., & Marlow, D. (1964).The approval motive: studies in evaluative dependence. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  14. Daly, M. (1973).Beyond God the father: Towards a philosophy of women’s liberation. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  15. De Crow, K. (1975).Sexist justice. New York: Vintage Press.Google Scholar
  16. Frazier, N., & Sadker, M. (1973).Sexism in school and society. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  17. Gabriel, S., & Smithson, I. (1990).Gender in the classroom: power and pedagogy. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  18. Grote, B., & Cvetkovich, G. (1972). Humor appreciation and issue involvement.Psychonomic Science, 27, 199–200.Google Scholar
  19. Hassett, J., & Houlihan, J. (1979). Different jokes for different folks.Psychology Today, 12, 64–71.Google Scholar
  20. Henkin, B., & Fish, J. M. (1986). Gender and personality differences in the appreciation of cartoon humor.The Journal of Psychology, 120, 157–175.Google Scholar
  21. Illich, I., (1982).Gender. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  22. Komisar, L. (1971). The image of women in advertising. In V. Garnick & R. K. Moran (Eds.),Women in sexist society. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  23. Lafontaine, E. (1983). Forms of false consciousness among professional women. In P. Lattin, J. Bischoff, & L. Tafel (Eds.),Feminist research in the eighties. Dekalb: Northern Illinois University.Google Scholar
  24. Mc Calla-Vickers, J. (1984).Taking sex into account. The policy consequences of sexist research. Ottawa: Carleton University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Moore, T. E., Griffiths, K., & Payne, B. (1987). Gender, attitudes towards women, and the appreciation of sexist humor.Sex Roles, 16, 521–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pedhazur, E. J. (1982).Multiple regression in behavioral research. Explanation and prediction. Toronto: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar
  27. Richardson, B. (1974).Sexism in higher education. New York: Seabury Press.Google Scholar
  28. Ruether, R. (1983).Sexism and God-talk: toward a feminist theology. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  29. Spence, J. T., & Helmreich, R. (1972). The attitudes towards women scale: an objective instrument to measure attitudes toward the rights and roles of women in contemporary society.JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology, 2, 66–67.Google Scholar
  30. Sternglanz, S. H., & Serbin, L. A. (1976). Sex roles stereotyping in children’s television programs. In R. G. Kaplan & J. P. Bean (Eds.),Beyond sex-role stereotypes: reading toward a psychology of androgyny. Boston: Little Brown.Google Scholar
  31. Vetterling-Braggin, M. (Ed.). (1981).Sexist language: a modern philosophical analysis. Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams.Google Scholar
  32. Zillmann, D., & Cantor, J. R. (1976). A disposition theory of humor and mirth. In A. J. Chapman & H. C. Foot (Eds.),Humor and laughter: theory, research and applications. London: Wiley.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brigitte Bill
    • 1
  • Peter Naus
    • 1
  1. 1.the University of St. Jerome’s CollegeWaterlooCanada

Personalised recommendations