Homophobic Humour

The Relationship Between Televised Homophobic Humour and Attitudes Toward Sexual Orientation – Jenn Clark, Amanda Champion, Amy Pedersen, & Cory L. Pedersen

Humour is a form of communication that elicits laughter and amusement through the use of comedic devices such as irony, puns, and double entendres (Yee, 2011). However, over the past decade, humour has been more accurately portrayed as a multi-faceted construct that encompasses both positive and negative functions (Herzog & Strevey, 2008; Matin, Puhlik-Doris, Larsen, Gray, & Weir, 2003; Stieger, Formann, & Burger, 2011).

Given the current popularity of disparaging humour within various facets of society including media and other forms of social interactions (Ford et al., 2008), there is serious concern over the negative implications of disparaging humour. These include the ability of disparaging humour to increase hostility toward out-groups (Nilsen, 1994) as well as the possibility for eliciting violence and psychological distress (McCann et al., 2010). Research to date, has shown that disparaging humour has been shown to reinforce and maintain sexist and homophobic ideologies that exist in contemporary society. Yet, there still remains a dearth in the literature regarding homophobic humour and its impact on homophobic attitudes and behavior.

The current investigation explored the impact of disparaging homophobic humour on perpetuating homonegativity. We hypothesized that participants who watched a homophobic humour clip would score higher on a measure of homonegativity than those exposed to either a non-homophobic humour clip or no clip condition. Contrary to expectations, results indicated only a significant main effect of gender on homonegativity. That is, after controlling for religiosity, participants did not report significantly higher rates of homonegativity after watching the homophobic humour clip than those not exposed to such a condition. However, as anticipated, men scored higher on homonegativity than women overall.

Poster presented at the Western Psychological Association convention, Long Beach CA, 2016