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Cross-cultural variation in gelotophobia within the United States

Author(s): Martin D. Lampert | Kate L. Isaacson | Jim Lyttle

Journal: Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling
ISSN 2190-0493

Volume: 52;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 202;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: phobias | social anxiety | shame | ethnicity | laughter

In the first international study of gelotophobia (the fear of being laughed at), Proyer et al. (2009) administered an established measure of gelotophobia, the GELOPH, to 93 different samples across 73 countries, including six samples from the United States. In the original study, the researchers reported notable response similarities across a core set of GELOPH items, referred to as the GELOPH. The present study takes a closer look at ethnic differences within these original United States samples, focusing specifically on the differences between European and Asian American respondents to two types of items on the GELOPH, which we identified as self-perception and social reaction items. Based on prior research dealing with self-concept and social anxiety, we predicted that individuals with a more interdependent self-construal (Asian Americans) would be more likely than those with an independent self-construal (European Americans) to report greater concern over revealing themselves as foolish or ridiculous in public. However, because of the greater importance for their own self concept to maintain positive social relations, Asian Americans would not be more likely than European Americans to report greater avoidance of or discomfort with social encounters involving laughter. Comparisons of the GELOPH items related to self-perceptions and social reactions supported these expectations, and we discuss how these results highlight how sets of items on the GELOPH may vary in their sensitivity to cultural differences.
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