A research project led by a Western Carolina University psychology professor indicates that jokes about blondes and women drivers are not just harmless fun and games; instead, exposure to sexist humor can lead to toleration of hostile feelings and discrimination against women.
â€œSexist humor is not simply benign amusement. It can affect men’s perceptions of their immediate social surroundings and allow them to feel comfortable with behavioral expressions of sexism without the fear of disapproval of their peers,”said Thomas E. Ford, a new faculty member in the psychology department at WCU.”Specifically, we propose that sexist humor acts as a â€˜releaser’ of prejudice.”
Ford, who conducted research into sexist humor with three graduate students at his previous institution of Western Michigan University, presents their findings in an article accepted for publication in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, one of the nation’s top social psychology journals. The article,”More Than Just a Joke: The Prejudice-Releasing Function of Sexist Humor,”is scheduled for publication in February.
In the article, Ford and the graduate student co-authors describe two research projects designed to test the theory that”disparagement humor”has negative social consequences and plays an important role in shaping social interaction.
â€œOur research demonstrates that exposure to sexist humor can create conditions that allow men â€“ especially those who have antagonistic attitudes toward women â€“ to express those attitudes in their behavior,”he said.”The acceptance of sexist humor leads men to believe that sexist behavior falls within the bounds of social acceptability.”…