Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion

2018

Thesis Director

Russell E. Gruber

Abstract

In the field of social psychology, there have been multiple sources of research demonstrating the proposed links between prejudice and humor. The breadth of this research appears to hold the common theme of observing how the use of negative humor can disenfranchise different outgroups, or groups that seem to be at the bottom of the social ladder (e.g. the poor, marginalized ethnic/racial groups, sex, gender, and so on). Furthermore, the concepts of prejudice, as well as humor have been rarely observed through any nonviolence framework. The present study examined any relationship between humor (affiliative, self-enhancing, aggressive, and self-defeating), nonviolence (physical nonviolence, psychological nonviolence, helping-empathy, satyagraha ["search for wisdom"], and tapasya ["self-suffering"]), and prejudice-related variables (dominance, anti-egalitarianism, "diversity of contact", "relativistic appreciation", and "comfort with differences"). One hundred twenty-six undergraduate university students responded to a measure of humor, a measure of nonviolence, and two measures related to prejudice. Associations between humor, nonviolence, and prejudice were found. Significant positive relationships were found between: affiliative humor and comfort with differences; and self-defeating humor and anti-egalitarianism. Significant negative relationships were found between: aggressive humor and physical nonviolence; Self-enhancing humor and physical nonviolence; aggressive humor and satyagraha; and aggressive humor and diversity of contact. Theoretical implications are discussed to advocate use of more humor-based techniques in a clinical and community setting, and observing humor as a broad agent of interpersonal and intrapersonal change.

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