ERIC Number: ED282275
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Jun
Reference Count: 0
Self- and Other-Disparaging Wit/Humor and Speaker Ethos: Three Experiments.
Gruner, Charles R.
Listeners generally rate speakers of high initial ethos (such as university professors) using mildly self-deprecating humor highly on traits like "wittiness" and "funniness." A three-part study investigated whether a speaker of lower initial ethos (such as a student) can "get away" with such self-deprecation. In Experiment 1, college students read versions of a speech that varied by low versus high speaker ethos, and humor versus no humor, where the humor in the speech put down the professional field of the speaker and was "witty." Subjects rated both speaker types higher when humor was used. In Experiment 2, the ethos difference between speaker types was wider, the humor put down the speaker rather than the profession, and it was "humorous." Subjects rated these speakers lower for authoritativeness in the humor conditions. A different set of subjects rated the witty materials of Experiments 1 and 2 to confirm that the "childish" nature of the humor in the second experiment led to the lower authority rankings. Experiment 3 tested the effects of self- versus other-directed humor by having subjects read three speeches on choosing psychology as a career attributed to (1) a psychologist (self-deprecating humor), (2) an economist (other-directed humor), or (3) control (no humor). Subjects ranked both speakers using wit higher than the control speaker, which indicates that tasteful disparaging wit may be used successfully by speakers whether that wit disparages self or others. (SKC)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Conference on Humor (4th, Tel Aviv, Israel, June 1984).