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International Journal of Humor Research

Editor-in-Chief: Ford, Thomas E.

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Investigating the humor of gelotophobes: Does feeling ridiculous equal being humorless?

Willibald Ruch
  • Corresponding author
  • University of Zurich
/ Ursula Beermann
  • University of Zurich
/ René T. Proyer
  • University of Zurich
Published Online: 2009-02-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/HUMR.2009.006


Titze (Humor and Health Journal 5:1–11, 1996) concluded from individual case studies that gelotophobes do not experience humor and laughter as a shared enjoyment but rather as a threat. Two studies examined whether gelotophobes are less humorous in general or whether this is true only for certain components of humor. In study I, three samples (N = 120 and 70 students; N = 169 adults) filled in the GELOPH〈46〉 along with several humor instruments (i.e., 3 WD, CHS, HBQD, HSQ, HUWO, STCI-T〈60〉). Results showed that gelotophobes are less cheerful and characterize their humor style as inept, socially cold, and mean-spirited. They report less frequent use of humor as a means for coping and indulge less often in self-enhancing and social humor. Appreciation of incongruity-resolution humor and nonsense humor (but not sexual humor) was lower than for non-gelotophobes. Study II (N = 131 adults) focused on the relation between gelotophobia, gelotophilia, and katagelasticism and the ability to create humor (i.e., the CPPT). The ability to create humor is unrelated to gelotophobia, and tends to be positively correlated with gelotophilia and katagelasticism. Future studies should investigate why gelotophobes see their humor style as inept despite not lacking wit, and how their beliefs can be made more consistent with their abilities.

Keywords:: Gelotophobia; humor; humor appreciation; humor styles; sense of humor; wit

About the article

Published Online: 2009-02-13

Published in Print: 2009-02-01

Citation Information: Humor - International Journal of Humor Research, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/HUMR.2009.006. Export Citation

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