Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Randall H. Best
The purpose of this paper was to study what effects the gallows transaction has on performance. The gallows laugh or the gallows smile occurs after a special kind of stimulus and response called the gallows transaction, Berne (1972). Gallows transactions include laughs or smiles directly following statements which are actually painful to the individual. The distinguishing mark of humor in the gallows transaction is that it isn't funny. To date, there has been little scientific research on the gallows transaction.
Subjects were 96 psychology undergraduate students. Subjects were divided into four groups, 24 subjects with confronted gallows transactions, 24 subjects without gallows transactions who were confronted, 24 subjects without gallows transactions but who were confronted, and 24 subjects without gallows transactions who were not confronted. Each group was given a total of two trials each.
The analysis of variance was used to compare the differences between the gallows and non-gallows groups. A t test was used to compare male and female performances for gallows and non-gallows subjects.
It was found that gallows subjects scored significantly lower and performed less well (p<.01), than non-gallows subjects. In the confrontation of gallows subjects it was found that the confrontation of gallows increases subjects performance which was significant [F (1,184df) = 9.10. p<.01], while confrontation of non-gallows subjects does not increase performance and was not significant [F (1,184df) = (1,184df) = .03, p = n.s.].
No significant differences were found between male and female performances for gallows or non-gallows subjects.
The results suggest that confrontation of gallows does improve performance levels when subjects become aware and stop using the gallows transaction.
Maxedon, Sandra S., "A Study of The Gallows Transaction" (1978). Masters Theses. 3251.
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