The effects of humor-induced arousal upon aggressive behavior

Charles Mueller, Edward Donnerstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The present experiment attempted to reconcile previous results in the area of humor and aggression. It was hypothesized that humor serves two functions, arousal and attentional shift, with regard to its influence on the relation of prior anger arousal and aggression. As a test of this assumption, subjects in the present experiment were subjected to three forms of humor (high arousing, low arousing, nonhumor) after being angered or treated in a neutral manner by a confederate. In an analysis on subsequent aggression toward the confederate, it was found that female subjects reduced their aggression after exposure to low arousing humor while maintaining aggression at a high level for high arousing stimuli. Male subjects were not influenced by humor exposure. Possible reasons for this sex difference are examined in light of the arousal and attentional shift properties of humorous stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-82
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1977
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Psychology


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