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International Journal of Humor Research

Editor-in-Chief: Ford, Thomas E.

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Volume 22, Issue 1-2


Breaking ground in cross-cultural research on the fear of being laughed at (gelotophobia): A multi-national study involving 73 countries

René T. Proyer / Willibald Ruch / Numan S. Ali / Hmoud S. Al-Olimat / Toshihiko Amemiya / Tamirie Andualem Adal / Sadia Aziz Ansari / Špela Arhar / Gigi Asem / Nicolas Baudin / Souha Bawab / Doris Bergen / Ingrid Brdar / Rute Brites / Marina Brunner-Sciarra / Amy Carrell / Hugo Carretero Dios / Mehmet Celik / Grazia Ceschi / Kay Chang / Chen Guo-Hai
  • University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou, P. R. China
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Alexander Cheryomukhin / Maria P. Y. Chik / Wladyslaw Chlopicki / Jacquelyn Cranney / Donatien Dahourou / Sibe Doosje / Margherita Dore / Nahwat El-Arousy / Emilia Fickova / Martin Führ / Joanne Gallivan / Han Geling
  • Ibn Rushd Psychiatric Hospital, Iraq
  • Shanghai University of Science and Technology, Shanghai, China
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/ Lydia Germikova / Marija Giedraityte / Abe Goh / Rebeca Díaz González / Sai Kin Ho / Martina Hrebícková
  • Ibn Rushd Psychiatric Hospital, Iraq
  • Institute of Psychology, Academy of Science of the Czech Republic, Czech Republic
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/ Belen Jaime / Birgit Hertzberg Kaare / Shanmukh Kamble / Shahe Kazarian / Paavo Kerkkänen / Mirka Klementová / Irina M. Kobozeva / Snjezana Kovjanic / Narasappa Kumaraswamy / Martin Lampert / Chao-Chih Liao / Manon Levesque / Eleni Loizou / Rolando Díaz Loving / Jim Lyttle
  • Kansai University, Japan
  • Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies, USA
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/ Vera C. Machline / Sean McGoldrick / Margaret Mcrorie / Liu Min / René Mõttus / Margret M. Munyae / Carmen Elvira Navia / Mathero Nkhalamba / Pier Paolo Pedrini / Mirsolava Petkova / Tracey Platt / Diana-Elena Popa / Anna Radomska / Tabassum Rashid / David Rawlings / Victor J. Rubio / Andrea C. Samson / Orly Sarid / Soraya Shams / Sek Sisokohm / Jakob Smári / Ian Sneddon / Irena Snikhovska / Ekaterina A. Stephanenko / Ieva Stokenberga / Hugo Stuer / Yohana Sherly Rosalina Tanoto / Luis Tapia / Julia Taylor / Pascal Thibault / Ava Thompson / Hanna Thörn / Hiroshi Toyota / Judit Ujlaky / Vitanya Vanno / Jun Wang
  • North South University Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Guangdong University of Technology, Guangdong, China
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/ Betsie Van Der Westhuizen / Deepani Wijayathilake / Peter S. O. Wong / Edgar B. Wycoff
  • North South University Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Nicholson School of Communication, University of Central Florida, USA
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/ Eun Ja Yeun
Published Online: 2009-02-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/HUMR.2009.012


The current study examines whether the fear of being laughed at (gelotophobia) can be assessed reliably and validly by means of a self-report instrument in different countries of the world. All items of the GELOPH (Ruch and Titze, GELOPH〈46〉, University of Düsseldorf, 1998; Ruch and Proyer, Swiss Journal of Psychology 67:19–27, 2008b) were translated to the local language of the collaborator (42 languages in total). In total, 22,610 participants in 93 samples from 73 countries completed the GELOPH. Across all samples the reliability of the 15-item questionnaire was high (mean alpha of .85) and in all samples the scales appeared to be unidimensional. The endorsement rates for the items ranged from 1.31% through 80.00% to a single item. Variations in the mean scores of the items were more strongly related to the culture in a country and not to the language in which the data were collected. This was also supported by a multidimensional scaling analysis with standardized mean scores of the items from the GELOPH〈15〉. This analysis identified two dimensions that further helped explaining the data (i.e., insecure vs. intense avoidant-restrictive and low vs. high suspicious tendencies towards the laughter of others). Furthermore, multiple samples derived from one country tended to be (with a few exceptions) highly similar. The study shows that gelotophobia can be assessed reliably by means of a self-report instrument in cross-cultural research. This study enables further studies of the fear of being laughed at with regard to differences in the prevalence and putative causes of gelotophobia in comparisons to different cultures.

Keywords:: Cross-cultural comparisons; gelotophobia; humor; laughter; multi-national study

About the article

Published Online: 2009-02-13

Published in Print: 2009-02-01

Citation Information: Humor - International Journal of Humor Research, Volume 22, Issue 1-2, Pages 253–279, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/HUMR.2009.012.

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