The impact of social power on the evaluation of offensive jokes

Hans Knegtmans, Wilco W. Van Dijk*, Marlon Mooijman, Nina Van Lier, Sacha Rintjema, Annemieke Wassink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The current research examined whether social power affects what people find funny. In two experiments, participants' psychological state of social power was experimentally manipulated and their evaluations of offensive jokes were assessed. Results showed that participants in a psychological state of high power-as compared to low power-evaluated offensive jokes as less inappropriate, less offensive, and funnier. Mediation analyses showed that power increased the funniness of offensive jokes through decreasing the perceived inappropriateness of these jokes. Implications for research on power and humor are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-104
Number of pages20
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 26 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • benign violation theory
  • offensive jokes
  • power
  • social psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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