The present experiment attempted to reconcile previous results in the area of humor and aggression. It was hypothesized that humor serves two functions, arousal and attentional shift, with regard to its influence on the relation of prior anger arousal and aggression. As a test of this assumption, subjects in the present experiment were subjected to three forms of humor (high arousing, low arousing, nonhumor) after being angered or treated in a neutral manner by a confederate. In an analysis on subsequent aggression toward the confederate, it was found that female subjects reduced their aggression after exposure to low arousing humor while maintaining aggression at a high level for high arousing stimuli. Male subjects were not influenced by humor exposure. Possible reasons for this sex difference are examined in light of the arousal and attentional shift properties of humorous stimuli.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology