Humorous Responses to Gender Injustice: The Contrasting Effects of Efficacy and Emotions on Women’s Collective Action Intentions

Smadar Cohen-Chen, Rashpal K. Dhensa-Kahlon, Boaz Hameiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research has shown that subversive humor may be used to challenge existing societal hierarchies by confronting people with prejudice. Expanding on this literature, we hypothesized that humor would create two simultaneous and offsetting psychological mechanisms: increasing collective action motivation by signaling speaker power and inspiring efficacy and decreasing collective action motivation by reducing negative emotions towards men as the powerful group. We tested our hypotheses in two experiments, conducted among self-identified women. Study 1 (N = 374) compared videos featuring a comedian (subversive humor vs. non-humor vs. unrelated humor) and Study 2 (N = 224) utilized vignettes depicting a woman’s response to a sexist workplace interaction (subversive humor vs. non-humor vs. amenable response). Subversive humor (vs. unrelated humor/amenable response) increased group efficacy and subsequently collective action intentions. Simultaneously, and as an offsetting mechanism, subversive humor (compared to non-humor) reduced negative emotions toward men and subsequently lowered collective action intentions. Our results call into question the efficaciousness of humor responses to inspire women observers toward collective action for gender equality and emphasize the need for a deeper understanding of humor as a tool to promote action for equality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-351
Number of pages16
JournalSex Roles
Volume90
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2024

Keywords

  • Collective action
  • Gender equality
  • Gender injustice
  • Subversive humor

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Gender Studies

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