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The Role of Laughter and Humor in Growing Up Female

  • Paul E. McGhee
Part of the Women in Context: Development and Stresses book series (WICO, volume 2)

Abstract

The present chapter explores the relationship between female development and different aspects of humor responsiveness, such as laughing or smiling, joking, and clowning. Considerable progress has been made in the past decade toward a general understanding of humor (see Chapman and Foot, 1976, 1977; Goldstein and McGhee, 1972; and McGhee and Chapman, 1980), but it is only recently that we have begun to recognize the differential significance of humor for the development of males and females. It is proposed here that a clearly definable set of sex-role standards regarding humor exists for males and females in our culture. Most important along these lines is the expectation that males should be initiators of humor, while females should be responders. It is proposed that the use of humor in interpersonal interaction serves as a means of gaining or maintaining dominance or control over the social situation. Because of the power associated with the successful use of humor, humor initiation has become associated with other traditionally masculine characteristics, such as aggressiveness, dominance, and assertiveness. For a female to develop into a clown or joker, then, she must violate the behavioral pattern normally reserved for women. Data reviewed below suggest that females who have developed a highly initiating sense of humor do show many common behavioral characteristics with males, although they have also developed a pattern of humor responsiveness that is peculiarly associated with females.

Keywords

Social Facilitation Humor Rating Humor Appreciation Sexual Humor Playful Frame 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul E. McGhee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Child Development and Family RelationsTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA

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