Event Title

Young Adults’ Humor Judgments, Prejudice, and Experience with Discrimination

Session Title

Discrimination

Faculty Mentor

Merry Sleigh, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Psychology

Location

DIGS 220

Start Date

12-4-2019 3:00 PM

Description

We investigated adults’ perceptions of humor by having them evaluate humorous, but perhaps offensive, memes. We hypothesized that participants who experienced more discrimination would rate the memes as more offensive and less humorous. We also hypothesized that Caucasian participants and men would find the cartoons to be more humorous and less offensive. Participants were 73 young adults (80% women; 53% Caucasians) with a mean age of 21.63 (SD = 6.25). Participants encountered seven memes making fun of different racial groups (African American, Mexican, Jewish, and Caucasian people), bosses, the cartoon viewer (i.e., the participant), and missing a day of school. After each meme, participants evaluated the humor and offensiveness. They also indicated how humorous the average person, their parents, and the targeted group would find the meme. Participants then responded to the Everyday Discrimination Scale and the Symbolic Racism 2000 Scale. Results revealed that adults evaluated racially prejudiced humor to be less funny and more offensive than other humor. It is unclear whether this finding reflects actual attitudes or social desirability. Participants whose scores revealed higher levels of prejudice were less offended by the memes. Prejudicial views were more predictive of how people evaluated cartoons than was personal experience with discrimination. Perhaps not surprisingly, race was more influential than gender and age in determining how adults responded to the racially charged memes. These findings add to our understanding of how personal characteristics impact cognitive appraisals of humor and may be of interest to researchers focused on either humor or prejudice.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting, Jacksonville, Florida, March 2019

Awards Won

Winner, CEPO Undergraduate Research Award, SEPA Annual Meeting, March 2019

Course Assignment

PSYC 302 – Sleigh

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Apr 12th, 3:00 PM

Young Adults’ Humor Judgments, Prejudice, and Experience with Discrimination

DIGS 220

We investigated adults’ perceptions of humor by having them evaluate humorous, but perhaps offensive, memes. We hypothesized that participants who experienced more discrimination would rate the memes as more offensive and less humorous. We also hypothesized that Caucasian participants and men would find the cartoons to be more humorous and less offensive. Participants were 73 young adults (80% women; 53% Caucasians) with a mean age of 21.63 (SD = 6.25). Participants encountered seven memes making fun of different racial groups (African American, Mexican, Jewish, and Caucasian people), bosses, the cartoon viewer (i.e., the participant), and missing a day of school. After each meme, participants evaluated the humor and offensiveness. They also indicated how humorous the average person, their parents, and the targeted group would find the meme. Participants then responded to the Everyday Discrimination Scale and the Symbolic Racism 2000 Scale. Results revealed that adults evaluated racially prejudiced humor to be less funny and more offensive than other humor. It is unclear whether this finding reflects actual attitudes or social desirability. Participants whose scores revealed higher levels of prejudice were less offended by the memes. Prejudicial views were more predictive of how people evaluated cartoons than was personal experience with discrimination. Perhaps not surprisingly, race was more influential than gender and age in determining how adults responded to the racially charged memes. These findings add to our understanding of how personal characteristics impact cognitive appraisals of humor and may be of interest to researchers focused on either humor or prejudice.