Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton June 10, 2017

Punches or punchlines? Honor, face, and dignity cultures encourage different reactions to provocation

Kuba Krys, Cai Xing, John M Zelenski, Colin A Capaldi, Zhongxin Lin and Bogdan Wojciszke
From the journal HUMOR

Abstract

Research on culture-related violence has typically focused on honor cultures and their justification of certain forms of aggression as reactions to provocation. In contrast, amusement and humor as the preferred reactions to provocation remain understudied phenomena, especially in a cross-cultural context. In an attempt to remedy this, participants from an honor culture (Poland), dignity culture (Canada), and face culture (China) were asked how they would react and how they would like to react to a series of provocative scenarios. Results confirmed that aggression may be the preferred reaction to provocation in honor cultures, while the preferred reaction to provocation in dignity cultures may be based on humor and amusement. The third kind of provocation reaction, withdrawal, turned out to be more complex but was most popular in dignity and face cultures. Furthermore, results confirmed that the way individuals think they would behave is more culturally diversified than the way individuals would like to behave.

Funding statement: Parts of this research were supported by the National Science Centre grant 2011/01/N/HS6/04285 awarded to Kuba Krys.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to express their gratitude to all partners engaged in translations and data collection.

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Appendix A – The Questionnaire (English version)

A The way things are

Below you can find a description of seven insulting situations. Each situation has three different endings. Would you behave this way in a real situation?

Please assess each of the below described behaviours – would you defend your worth by behaving this way? Please use the scale from 1 (I would never behave this way) to 7 (for sure I would do it).

1. During a party in the presence of many of your friends your acquaintance severely insulted your mother by abusively calling her a prostitute. As a reaction to this insult you would:
– do nothing and expect the host of the party to intervene1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– return the insult to that person using swear-words1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– humorously comment on that person’s behaviour1 2 3 4 5 6 7
2. During an informal meeting with co-workers your colleague unfavourably spoke of your spouse by questioning his/her morality and intellectual skills. As a reaction to this insult you would:
– do nothing and expect the boss of your team to intervene1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– return the insult to that person using swear-words1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– humorously comment on that person’s behaviour1 2 3 4 5 6 7
3. While walking with friends in the park your former neighbour coming from the opposite direction hit you with an arm, and on top of that called you ‘bitch’/‘asshole’. As a reaction to this insult you would:
– do nothing but consider reporting this behaviour to the police1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– return the insult to that person using words similar to what she/he used1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– turn to your friends and humorously comment on that person’s behaviour1 2 3 4 5 6 7
4. One of your former classmates spread insulting information about you (you’re a thief, a cheat and your moral conduct is poor). You met that person on the former class gathering. You would:
– do nothing and expect others not to believe in those rumours1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– call that person a dirty liar in the presence of others1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– humorously comment on that person’s behaviour1 2 3 4 5 6 7
5. A friend of one of your far relatives violently cut in line for a concert right in front of you with the words ‘move away you prick’. As a reaction to this insult you would:
– do nothing and expect the nearby security guard to intervene1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– return the insult to that person and try to defend your place in the line1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– humorously comment on that person’s behaviour1 2 3 4 5 6 7
6. During a family trip to another country someone on the railway station heard you use your language and called you ‘stupid Canadian/Pole/Chinese’. As a reaction to this insult you would:
– do nothing and expect the station security guard to intervene1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– publicly return the insult1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– turn to your family and humorously comment on that person’s behaviour1 2 3 4 5 6 7
7. During a night out in a pub/restaurant with friends your outfit was ridiculed aloud by someone living in your neighbourhood sitting nearby. As a reaction to this insult you would:
– do nothing and expect the pub/restaurant staff to intervene1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– publicly return the insult1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– humorously comment on that person’s behaviour1 2 3 4 5 6 7

B The way things generally should be

Below you can find a description of the same seven insulting situations. Again each situation has three different endings. Would you like to be able to behave this way? Do you see reactions displayed as justified? Imagine you will not be punished for your reaction – what would you ideally like to do?

Please assess each of the below described behaviours – would you like to behave this way to defend your worth? Please use the scale from 1 (I would not like to behave this way) to 7 (of course I would like to do it).

1. During a party in the presence of many of your friends your acquaintance severely insulted your mother by abusively calling her a prostitute. As a reaction to this insult you would ideally like to:
– do nothing and expect the host of the party to intervene1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– return the insult to that person using swear-words1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– humorously comment on that person’s behaviour1 2 3 4 5 6 7
2. During an informal meeting with co-workers your colleague unfavourably spoke of your spouse by questioning his/her morality and intellectual skills. As a reaction to this insult you would ideally like to:
– do nothing and expect the boss of your team to intervene1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– return the insult to that person using swear-words1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– humorously comment on that person’s behaviour1 2 3 4 5 6 7
3. While walking with friends in the park your former neighbour coming from the opposite direction hit you with an arm, and on top of that called you ‘bitch’/‘asshole’. You would ideally like to:
– do nothing but consider reporting this behaviour to the police1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– return the insult to that person using words similar to what she/he used1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– turn to your friends and humorously comment on that person’s behaviour1 2 3 4 5 6 7
4. One of your former classmates spread insulting information about you (you’re a thief, a cheat and your moral conduct is poor). You met that person on the former class gathering. You would ideally like to:
– do nothing and expect others not to believe in those rumours1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– call that person a dirty liar in the presence of others1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– humorously comment on that person’s behaviour1 2 3 4 5 6 7
5. A friend of one of your far relatives violently cut in line for a concert right in front of you with the words ‘move away you prick’. As a reaction to this insult you would ideally like to:
– do nothing and expect the nearby security guard to intervene1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– return the insult to that person and try to defend your place in the line1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– humorously comment on that person’s behaviour1 2 3 4 5 6 7
6. During a family trip to another country someone on the railway station heard you use your language and called you ‘stupid Canadian/Pole/Chinese’. As a reaction to this insult you would ideally like to:
– do nothing and expect the station security guard to intervene1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– publicly return the insult1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– turn to your family and humorously comment on that person’s behaviour1 2 3 4 5 6 7
7. During a night out in a pub/restaurant with friends your outfit was ridiculed aloud by someone living in your neighbourhood sitting nearby. As a reaction to this insult you would ideally like to:
– do nothing and expect the pub/restaurant staff to intervene1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– publicly return the insult1 2 3 4 5 6 7
– humorously comment on that person’s behaviour1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Published Online: 2017-6-10
Published in Print: 2017-7-26

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston