Effects of hostility arousal and aggressive humor on catharsis and humor preference

Gary K. Leak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Tested 3 hypotheses, derived from psychoanalytic theory, regarding humor and catharsis following a hostility-arousal manipulation. The experiment was a 2 × 2 factorial design with 2 levels of hostility arousal (high and low) and aggressive humor (presence or absence), with a group factor nested within arousal. 112 undergraduates served as Ss. As predicted, arousal Ss given aggressive humor rated the E significantly less negatively than aroused Ss not given the aggressive humor. However, contrary to expectation, aroused Ss did not show an increased preference for either hostile or racial wit jokes when compared to nonaroused controls. The evidence above for a catharsis effect is discussed with reference to the conflicting results of previous catharsis studies. (16 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)736-740
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1974
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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