Researchers aren’t like the rest of us.
For one, they go out and use SCIENCE to check out the things most of us just “know”. They try not to assume too much about why or how things happen so that they can test out their ideas.
A bit ago, a friend of mine linked me to this blog post: “Turns out, it’s worse for women if you’re funny when you’re sexist! Who knew…”
Now, I’m not one to take this on face value, even though it cites some articles and books. I want to know what’s in those sources. Given the sparse citations and lack of bibliography, it took some work, and it turns out that some aren’t actually research. Some of the key findings, however, seem to be based on actual research … I just don’t have access to get the articles themselves:
Ford, T.E. (2000). Effects of Sexist Humor on Tolerance of Sexist Events. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26 (9), 1094-1107. http://psp.sagepub.com/content/26/9/1094.short
Thomas E. Ford, Christie F. Boxer, Jacob Armstrong, and Jessica R. Edel (2008). More Than “Just a Joke”: The Prejudice-Releasing Function of Sexist Humor
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin February 2008 34: 159-170, first published on December 4, 2007 http://psp.sagepub.com/content/34/2/159.short
If anyone has access to these two and can email me a copy, that would be wonderbar.
Serious research is serious. Even when it comes to humor.
I’m also generally interested in humor research and especially the damaging effects of negative humor related to all sorts of -isms (even ones that don’t apply to me). I went looking for some more general studies and found this blog post in Psychology Today: Does Racist humor promote racism?
That, in turn, lead me to the International Society for Humor Studies, which sounds just plain fascinating. If I can find a way to ILL some of their articles, there’ll be more posts.
In the meantime, the take-away message is that, no matter how many times you say “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”, negative humor does makes things worse.