ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

心理科学进展 ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (3): 670-683.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.00670

• 研究前沿 • 上一篇    下一篇

贬损型幽默: 笑声能化解敌意吗?

李龙骄, 王芳()   

  1. 北京师范大学心理学部, 应用实验心理北京市重点实验室, 心理学国家级实验教学示范中心(北京师范大学), 北京 100875
  • 收稿日期:2021-04-02 出版日期:2022-03-15 发布日期:2022-01-25
  • 通讯作者: 王芳

Disparagement humor: Could laughter dissolve hostility?

LI Longjiao, WANG Fang()   

  1. Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology, National Demonstration Center for Experimental Psychology Education (Beijing Normal University), Faculty of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2021-04-02 Online:2022-03-15 Published:2022-01-25
  • Contact: WANG Fang


贬损型幽默指包含贬损意味同时令人发笑的信息。释放论、优越论、失谐-解决理论与良性进犯理论尝试解释了其心理机制。贬损不一定好笑, 群体身份和态度、接收者与贬损对象的心理距离以及人格、文化差异等均会影响幽默效果。贬损型幽默可以起到释放偏见与表达社会支配倾向的作用, 对人际交往的作用则不一致。贬损型幽默的整合性过程模型串联描述了贬损型幽默的机制、前因和后效, 可作为未来研究的框架。未来亦可继续探讨贬损型幽默的消极影响, 以及其对群际关系和社会公平的潜在积极作用, 并关注到中国社会文化背景下的贬损型幽默。

关键词: 贬损型幽默, 良性进犯理论, 偏见, 社会支配理论


Disparagement humor refers to communication that derogates or denigrates a certain target but elicits amusement. Blending two contradictory elements in terms of social approvability, the paradox of disparagement humor has sparked three major questions: how does amusement arise from disparagement? What determines whether an attempt at disparagement humor is perceived to be funny or offensive? What are the unique aftereffects of this fusion? Four major theoretical frameworks have been proposed to understand the psychological mechanism of disparagement humor. From a psychoanalytic perspective, relief theory suggests that the entertainment of humor comes from the catharsis of hostility. From an intergroup perspective, superiority theory suggests that the feeling of superiority generated by the disparagement of others leads to humorous experiences. From a cognitive perspective, incongruity-resolution theory suggests that humor derives from the resolution of incongruencies. Additionally, from a cognitive perspective, to provide a more accurate and universal explanation for humor than incongruity-resolution theory, benign violation theory suggests that humor comes from appraising something as both a violation and benign. Among the theories, the former two address the unique motivational factors underlying disparagement humor, while the latter two provide universal cognitive models to explain all humor, including disparagement humor. Thus, a motivational cognition model proposed later in the article could effectively depict an integrated picture of the psychological mechanism of disparagement humor. However, people do not necessarily find disparagement humor funny; sometimes it is offensive. Factors influencing the reception of disparagement humor include group identities and attitudes, psychological distance between the recipient and the object of derogation, and personal and cultural differences. The social effects of humor and derogatory comments are usually opposite, but the fusion of the two can produce unique outcomes. First, it can serve as a prejudice releaser by creating a social norm that allows the expression of prejudice, which is normally forbidden in modern society. In addition, the use of disparagement humor can serve to reinforce social hierarchies by functioning as a legitimizing myth that justifies expressions of social dominance motivations. Conversely, when disparagement humor is used by a disadvantaged social group to subvert an inequitable social hierarchy, the strategy of covering an insubordinate message with humor may encourage the expression of subversion and thus promote social equity. Finally, the impacts of disparagement humor on interpersonal interactions are inconsistent due to the contradictory effects of disparagement and humor. After reviewing the relevant theories and studies, we propose an integrated process model of disparagement. The model takes benign violation theory as its fundamental framework, dividing the completion of disparagement humor into three parts: first, the expresser delivers disparagement; second, the audience evaluates the disparagement as benign; and third, a sense of humor is produced. The model also integrates the motivational perspectives of relief theory and superiority theory by addressing motivational factors in the delivery and evaluation process. In addition, the model displays the retroaction of disparagement humor’s aftereffects on its delivery and evaluation by combining the prejudice-releaser and legitimizing-myth role of disparagement humor. As it depicts a comprehensive process and captures the dynamism of disparagement humor, the model can hopefully serve as a scaffold for future research. It is also important for future research to explore the negative effects of disparagement humor. Moreover, the potentially positive effects of disparagement humor on intergroup relations and social justice when used by disadvantaged groups to fight social injustice merit investigation. Finally, it could be rewarding to study the cultural distinctiveness of disparagement humor in certain aspects of Chinese culture, such as its essential foreignness and prosperous localization, the commercialization trend of disparagement jokes, and the specifically Chinese content conveyed and popularized by disparagement humor.

Key words: disparagement humor, benign violation theory, prejudice, social dominance theory