Social Consequences of Disparagement Humor: A Prejudiced Norm Theory
Title: Social Consequences of Disparagement Humor: A Prejudiced Norm Theory
In this article we introduce a “prejudiced norm theory” that specifies the social-psychological processes by which exposure to disparagement humor uniquely affects tolerance of discrimination against members of groups targeted by the humor. Our theory posits that a norm of tolerance of discrimination implied by disparagement humor functions as a source of self-regulation for people high in prejudice. For people high in prejudice, this norm regulates the effect of exposure to disparagement humor on tolerance of subsequently encountered discriminatory events. Our theory contributes to the literature on prejudice and discrimination by delineating the processes by which disparagement humor creates a normative climate of tolerance of discrimination, as well as variables that accentuate and attenuate its effects.
In this article, we review the theoretical and empirical literature on the effects of disparagement humor on stereotypes and prejudice. Based on the empirical evidence, exposure to disparagement is not likely to create or reinforce negative stereotypes or prejudiced attitudes. Exposure to disparagement humor does, however, have a negative social consequence: It increases tolerance of discriminatory events for people high in prejudice toward the disparaged group.