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Sexist humor and social identity: the role of sexist humor in men’s in-group cohesion, sexual harassment, rape proclivity, and victim blame

  • Manuela Thomae

    Manuela Thomae is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Winchester. Her research focuses on the replication of WEIRD research findings in non-WEIRD contexts, intergroup contact, ambivalent sexism and sexist humor.

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    and Afroditi Pina

    Afroditi Pina is a Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology (CORE-FP) at the University of Kent. Her areas of expertise are sexual and cyber-harassment perpetrators and victims.

From the journal HUMOR


Jokes have been recognized as ways in which negative attitudes and prejudice can be communicated and enacted in hidden ways (e.g., Allport 1954; Freud 2004 [1905]). In this paper, we review the existing literature on the functions and effects of sexist humor, using Martineau’s (1972) model on the social functions of humor as well as Tajfel and Turner’s (2004 [1986]) Social Identity Theory (SIT) and Turner et al.’s (1987) Self Categorization Theory. Within these frameworks, we particularly focus on sex as an intergroup context and on the way sexist humor functions to a) enhance male in-group cohesion (sexist humor as a predictor) b) serves as a form of sexual harassment (sexist humor as an outcome) and c) amplifies self-reported rape proclivity and victim blame (sexist humor as a moderator). The paper concludes by highlighting gaps in the existing literature and providing directions for future research.

About the authors

Manuela Thomae

Manuela Thomae is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Winchester. Her research focuses on the replication of WEIRD research findings in non-WEIRD contexts, intergroup contact, ambivalent sexism and sexist humor.

Afroditi Pina

Afroditi Pina is a Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology (CORE-FP) at the University of Kent. Her areas of expertise are sexual and cyber-harassment perpetrators and victims.


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Published Online: 2015-4-2
Published in Print: 2015-5-1

©2015 by De Gruyter Mouton

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