Effects of Eye Gaze and Gender on Deprecating Humor

Open Access
Author:
Henry, Cara Christine
Area of Honors:
Psychology
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Reginald Adams Jr., Thesis Supervisor
  • William Ray, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • humor
  • gender
  • eye gaze
Abstract:
First, the current study was designed to test the prediction, based on the signal value of gaze direction (direct gaze is associated with approach behaviors and averted eye gaze is associated with avoidance behaviors), that self-deprecating humor would be perceived as funnier when coming from an individual with direct eye gaze, and other-deprecating humor would be perceived as funnier when coming from an individual with averted eye gaze. Second, this study was also designed to test the prediction, based on gender stereotypes of male aggression and female submissiveness, that self-deprecating jokes will be perceived as funnier when coming from a male, and other-deprecating jokes will be perceived as funnier when coming from a female. Both of these predictions draw on literature that suggests that incongruity in humor production will enhance perceived humor. Undergraduate participants rated neutral male and female faces with either direct or averted eye gaze that were paired with a self- or other-deprecating joke on a scale of 1 (not funny at all) to 7 (very funny). Results indicated a main effect of eye gaze, but no interaction between type of joke and gaze direction; however, an interaction between joke and gender was found, partially supporting the hypothesis.