Just Joking? Essay

2420 words - 10 pages

Hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan are often seen as a serious highly threatening group and even though the Ku Klux Klan is considered a threatening group; most people do not realize the extent to which humor can affect negative views of groups like the Ku Klux Klan. According to an article done by Billig (2001) on sites that contained African American jokes that were advertised as just jokes and not to be promoting violence; these jokes contained words and phrases pertaining to extreme racist hatred. These sites also contained links to Ku Klux Klan sites and it is believed by Billing (2001) that the racist hatred portrayed in these jokes actually promotes negative beliefs and even violence towards African Americans. This example of humor being used to affect beliefs of specific groups of individuals is an extreme but often jokes that may seem to be harmless, could actually be negatively affecting an individual’s viewpoint of the group the joke is directed towards. This study will test the effect of jokes directed towards specific groups on the viewpoints of perceivers of these jokes. Specifically, it is predicted that jokes that negatively portray a specific group will also negatively affect the perceiver’s viewpoint of that group within specific characteristics of the individual.
Theories, Terms and Scales
In the study done by Crandell and Eshleman (2003), prejudice is operationalized as the negative views of a specific group that are expressed when the prejudice is viewed as more acceptable and is no longer suppressed. Also justification is operationalized to be any evidence, whether it is psychological or social that allows for the expression of a prejudice to be viewed as non-threatening to the individual because they have already proven to others or themselves to not hold a prejudice view (Crandell & Eshleman, 2003). According to Crandell, Eshelman and O’Brien (2002), group norm theory states that the group membership affects attitudes, beliefs, values and prejudices due to socialization. Hostile sexism is operationalized as negative beliefs towards women, particularly in terms of character and competence (Thomas & Esses, 2004). Social dominance theory is the theory on the hierarchical power within a social group and this has been associated with a greater prejudice towards groups outside this hierarchical system by members within the system (Hodson, Rush & MacInnis, 2010). Also cavalier humor beliefs are operationalized as the lack of reading meaning into jokes and considering them as harmless even if they represent a prejudice view (Hodson, Rush & MacInnis, 2010).
Acceptance of Prejudice Jokes within a Group
As was stated in the terminology, justification allows for prejudice to be viewed as non-threatening to the individual’s beliefs because they have proven to others and themselves that they are not prejudice towards a specific group of people (Crandell & Eshleman, 2003). According to studies done by Benoit and Miller (2003), after...

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