Face reading the emotions of gelotophobes toward disparaging humorous advertising


disparagement humor
facial expressions recognition

How to Cite

Voutsa, M. C., Hatzithomas, L., Tsichla, E., & Boutsouki, C. (2022). Face reading the emotions of gelotophobes toward disparaging humorous advertising. The European Journal of Humour Research, 10(3), 88–112. https://doi.org/10.7592/EJHR.2022.10.3.631


Prior research has indicated that gelotophobia, people’s fear of being laughed at, influences their emotions toward a disparaging humorous event. Based on two experiments with a sample of 50 Greek participants each, the present study employed face recognition software to explore the emotions of gelotophobes, when exposed to an advertisement. It further examined the moderating role of the type of advertisement (i.e. a disparaging humorous ad vs. a non-disparaging non-humorous ad) and identification with the victim of the joke, on gelotophobes' emotions. At higher levels of identification with the victim, gelotophobes indicated lower levels of joy, joyful (Duchenne) smile, and a positive emotional valence toward a disparaging-humorous advertisement as opposed to non-gelotophobes. Joy was also found to mediate the negative effects of gelotophobia on attitude toward the ad.



Baker, S. M. & Kennedy, P. F. (1994). Death by Nostalgia: A Diagnosis of Context–specific Cases, in Allen, C.T. & Roedder John, D. (eds.), Advances in Consumer Research vol. 21, eds., Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, pp. 169–174.

Becker, T. E. (2005). ‘Potential problems in the statistical control of variables in organizational research: a qualitative analysis with recommendations’. Organizational Research Methods 8 (3), pp. 274-289.

Brown, M. R., Bhadury, R. K. & Pope, N. K. L. (2010). ‘The impact of comedic violence on viral advertising effectiveness’. Journal of Advertising 39 (1), pp. 49-66.

Chentsova-Dutton, Y. E., & Tsai, J. L. (2010). ‘Self-focused attention and emotional reactivity: the role of culture’. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 98 (3), p. 507.

Cohen, J. (2001). ‘Defining identification: a theoretical look at the identification of audiences with media characters’. Mass Communication & Society 4 (3), pp. 245-264.

Ducoffe, R. H. (1995). ‘How consumers assess the value of advertising’. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising 17 (1), pp. 1-18.

Ekman, P. (1992). ‘An argument for basic emotions’. Cognition & Emotion 6 (3-4), pp. 169-200.

Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1976). ‘Measuring facial movement’. Environmental Psychology and Nonverbal Behavior 1 (1), pp. 56-75.

Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Lang, A. G. & Buchner, A. (2007). ‘G* Power 3: a flexible statistical power analysis program for the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences’. Behavior Research Methods 39 (2), pp. 175-191.

Ford, T.E., Buie, H.S., Mason, S.D., Olah, A.R., Breeden, C.J. & Ferguson, M.A., (2020). ‘Diminished self-concept and social exclusion: disparagement humor from the target’s perspective’. Self and Identity 19 (6), pp. 698-718.

Führ, M. (2010). ‘The applicability of the GELOPH< 15> in children and adolescents: first evaluation in a large sample of Danish pupils’. Psychology Science Quarterly 52 (1), pp. 60-76.

Garcia-Burgos, D. & Zamora, M. C. (2013). ‘Facial affective reactions to bitter-tasting foods and body mass index in adults’. Appetite 71, pp. 178-186.

Gulas, C. S., McKeage, K. K. & Weinberger, M. G. (2010). ‘It's just a joke’. Journal of Advertising 39 (4), pp. 109-120.

Hayes, A. F. (2018). ‘Partial, conditional, and moderated moderated mediation: quantification, inference, and interpretation’. Communication Monographs 85 (1), pp. 4-40.

Hofmann, J., Platt, T., Ruch, W., Niewiadomski, R. & Urbain, J. (2015). ‘The influence of a virtual companion on amusement when watching funny films’. Motivation and Emotion 39 (3), pp. 434-447.

Holbrook, M. B. & Batra, R. (1987). ‘Assessing the role of emotions as mediators of consumer responses to advertising’. Journal of Consumer Research 14 (3), pp. 404-420.

Hupp, O., Gröppel-Klein, A., Dieckmann, A., Broeckelmann, P. & Walter, K. (2008). ‘Beyond verbal scales: measurement of emotions in advertising effectiveness research’. Yearbook of Marketing and Consumer Research 6 (4), pp. 72-99.

Hwang, H. C. & Matsumoto, D. (2016). ‘Measuring emotions in the face’, in Meiselman, H.L. (ed.), Emotion Measurement, Woodhead Publishing, pp. 125-144.

Izard, C. E. (1977). Human Emotions. Springer Science & Business Media.

Janes, L. M., & Olson, J. M. (2000). ‘Jeer pressure: the behavioral effects of observing ridicule of others’. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 26 (4), pp. 474-485.

Karpinska-Krakowiak, M. (2020). ‘Gotcha! Realism of comedic violence and its impact on brand responses: what's so funny about that bloody ad? The moderating role of disposition to laughter’. Journal of Advertising Research 60 (1), pp. 38-53.

Kostyra, E., Rambuszek, M., Waszkiewicz-Robak, B., Laskowski, W., Blicharski, T. & Poławska, E. (2016). ‘Consumer facial expression in relation to smoked ham with the use of face reading technology. The methodological aspects and informative value of research results’. Meat Science 119, pp. 22-31.

Kuppens, P., Tuerlinckx, F., Yik, M., Koval, P., Coosemans, J., Zeng, K. J. & Russell, J. A. (2017). ‘The relation between valence and arousal in subjective experience varies with personality and culture’. Journal of Personality 85 (4), pp. 530-542.

LaFave, L. (1972). ‘Humor judgments as a function of reference groups and identification classes’, in Goldstein, H. (ed.), The Psychology of Humor: Theoretical Perspectives and Empirical Issues, New York: Academic Press, pp. 195-210.

LaFave, L., Haddad, J. & Maesen, W. A. (1996). ‘Superiority, enhanced self-esteem, and perceived incongruity humor theory’, in Chapman, A. J. & Foot, H. C. (eds.), Humor and Laughter: Theory, Research, and Applications. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, pp. 63–91.

Lampert, M. D., Isaacson, K. L. & Lyttle, J. (2010). ‘Cross-cultural variation in gelotophobia within the United States’. Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling 52 (2), pp. 202–216.

Lee, J. S. (2006). ‘Affect intensity and need for cognition: effects on cognitive elaboration of emotional advertising’, in American Academy of Advertising. Conference. Proceedings Online. American Academy of Advertising, p. 62.

Lerner, J. S., Small, D. A. & Loewenstein, G. (2004). ‘Heart strings and purse strings: carryover effects of emotions on economic decisions’. Psychological Science, 15 (5), pp. 337-341.

Lewinski, P., den Uyl, T. M. & Butler, C. (2014). ‘Automated facial coding: validation of basic emotions and FACS AUs in FaceReader’. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics 7 (4), pp. 227-236.

Maneesriwongul, W. & Dixon, J. K. (2004). ‘Instrument translation process: a methods review’. Journal of Advanced Nursing 48 (2), pp. 175-186.

Mehrabian, A. & Russell, J. A. (1974). ‘The basic emotional impact of environments’. Perceptual and Motor Skills 38 (1), pp. 283-301.

Murphy, S. T., Frank, L. B., Chatterjee, J. S. & Baezconde-Garbanati, L. (2013). ‘Narrative versus nonnarrative: the role of identification, transportation, and emotion in reducing health disparities’. Journal of Communication 63 (1), pp. 116-137.

Nunnally, J. C. (1978). Psychometric Theory. New York: McGraw–Hill.

Olney, T. J., Holbrook, M. B. & Batra, R. (1991). ‘Consumer responses to advertising: the effects of ad content, emotions, and attitude toward the ad on viewing time’. Journal of Consumer Research 17 (4), pp. 440-453.

Orth, U. R., Malkewitz, K. & Bee, C. (2010). ‘Gender and personality drivers of consumer mixed emotional response to advertising’. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising 32 (1), pp. 69-80.

Papousek, I., Schulter, G. & Lang, B. (2009). ‘Effects of emotionally contagious films on changes in hemisphere-specific cognitive performance’. Emotion 9 (4), pp. 510-519.

Platt, T. (2008). ‘Emotional responses to ridicule and teasing: should gelotophobes react differently?’ Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 21 (2), pp. 105–128.

Platt, T. & Ruch, W. (2009). ‘The emotions of gelotophobes: shameful, fearful, and joyless?’ Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 22 (1-2), pp. 91-110.

Platt, T., Proyer, R. & Ruch, W. (2009). ‘Gelotophobia and bullying: the assessment of the fear of being laughed at and its application among bullying victims’. Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling 51 (2), pp. 135-147.

Poels, K. & Dewitte, S. (2006). ‘How to capture the heart? Reviewing 20 years of emotion measurement in advertising’. Journal of Advertising Research 46 (1), pp. 18-37.

Preacher, K. J. & Hayes, A. F. (2004). ‘SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect effects in simple mediation models’. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers 36 (4), pp. 717-731.

Proyer, R. T., Meier, L. E., Platt, T. & Ruch, W. (2013). ‘Dealing with laughter and ridicule in adolescence: relations with bullying and emotional responses’. Social Psychology of Education 16 (3), pp. 399-420.

Proyer, R. T., Platt, T. & Ruch, W. (2010). ‘Self-conscious emotions and ridicule: shameful gelotophobes and guilt free katagelasticists’. Personality and Individual Differences 49 (1), pp. 54-58.

Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W. & Chen, G. H. (2012). ‘Gelotophobia: life satisfaction and happiness across cultures’. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 25 (1), pp. 23-40.

Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., Ali, N. S., Al-Olimat, H. S., Amemiya, T., Adal, T. A., ... & Bawab, S. (2009). ‘Breaking ground in cross-cultural research on the fear of being laughed at (gelotophobia): a multi-national study involving 73 countries’. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 22 (1-2), pp. 253-279.

Revelle, W. & Loftus, D. A. (1990). ‘Individual differences and arousal: implications for the study of mood and memory’. Cognition & Emotion 4 (3), pp. 209-237.

Ruch, W. & Proyer, R. T. (2008a). ‘The fear of being laughed at: individual and group differences in gelotophobia’. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 21 (1), pp. 47-67.

Ruch, W. & Proyer, R. T. (2008b). ‘Who is gelotophobic? Assessment criteria for the fear of being laughed at’. Swiss Journal of Psychology 67 (1), pp. 19-27.

Ruch, W. & Proyer, R. T. (2009). ‘Extending the study of gelotophobia: on gelotophiles and katagelasticists’. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 22 (1-2), pp. 183-212.

Ruch, W., Hofmann, J. & Platt, T. (2015). ‘Individual differences in gelotophobia and responses to laughter-eliciting emotions’. Personality and Individual Differences 72 (1), pp. 117-121.

Ruch, W., Hofmann, J., Platt, T. & Proyer, R. (2013). ‘The state-of-the art in gelotophobia research: a review and some theoretical extensions’. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 27 (1), pp. 23-45.

Russell, J. A. (1980). ‘A circumplex model of affect’. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 39 (6), pp. 1161-1178.

Russell, J. A. & Barrett, L. F. (1999). ‘Core affect, prototypical emotional episodes, and other things called emotion: dissecting the elephant’. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 76 (5), pp. 805–819.

Samson, A. C. & Meyer, Y. (2010). ‘Perception of aggressive humor in relation to gelotophobia, gelotophilia and katagelasticism’. Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling 52 (2), pp. 217-230.

Swani, K., Weinberger, M. G. & Gulas, C. S. (2013). ‘The impact of violent humor on advertising success: a gender perspective’. Journal of Advertising 42 (4), pp. 308-319.

Tal-Or, N. & Cohen, J. (2010). ‘Understanding audience involvement: conceptualizing and manipulating identification and transportation’. Poetics 38 (4), pp. 402-418.

Timamopoulou, A., Hatzithomas L., Boutsouki C. & Voutsa M. C. (2021). ‘Half a century of Super Bowl commercials: a content analysis of humorous advertising styles’, in Waiguny, M.K.J. & Rosengren, S. (eds.), Advances in Advertising Research XI. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler, pp. 137-150.

Titze, M. (1996). ‘The Pinocchio Complex: Overcoming the fear of laughter’. Humor & Health Journal 5, pp. 1–11.

Tu, Y. Z., Lin, D. W., Suzuki, A. & Goh J. O. S. (2018). ‘East Asian young and older adult perceptions of emotional faces from an age and sex fair east Asian facial expression database’. Frontiers in Psychology 9 (2358), pp. 1-18.

Vergura, D. T. & Luceri, B. (2018). ‘Product packaging and consumers’ emotional response. Does spatial representation influence product evaluation and choice?’. Journal of Consumer Marketing 35 (2), pp. 218-227.

Voutsa, M. C., Hatzithomas, L. & Boutsouki, C. (2018). ‘Superiority theory and disparagement humor: the role of gelotophobia, gelotophilia, and katagelasticism’, in Cauberghe, V. et al. (eds.), Advances in Advertising Research IX. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler, pp. 191-204.

Warren, C. & McGraw, A. P. (2016). ‘When does humorous marketing hurt brands?’ Journal of Marketing Behavior 2 (1), pp. 39-67.

Warren, C., Carter, E. P. & McGraw, A. P. (2019). ‘Being funny is not enough: the influence of perceived humor and negative emotional reactions on brand attitudes’. International Journal of Advertising 38 (7), pp. 1025-1045.

Weinberger, M. G. & Gulas, C. S. (1992). ‘The impact of humor in advertising: a review’. Journal of Advertising 21 (4), pp. 35-59.

Weinberger, M. G., Swani, K., Yoon, H. J. & Gulas, C. S. (2017). ‘Understanding responses to comedic advertising aggression: the role of vividness and gender identity’. International Journal of Advertising 36 (4), pp. 562-587.

Yik, M. S., Russell, J. A. & Barrett, L. F. (1999). ‘Structure of self-reported current affect: integration and beyond’. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 77 (3), pp. 600-619.

Yoon, H. J. (2016). ‘Comedic violence in advertising: the role of normative beliefs and intensity of violence’. International Journal of Advertising 35 (3), pp. 519-539.

Zhang, J., Norvilitis, J. M. & Jin, S. (2001). ‘Measuring gender orientation with the Bem Sex Role Inventory in Chinese culture’. Sex Roles 44 (3-4), pp. 237-251.

Zhang, Y. (1996). ‘Chinese consumers’ evaluation of foreign products: the influence of culture, product types and product presentation format’. European Journal of Marketing 30 (12), pp. 50-68.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2021 The European Journal of Humour Research


Download data is not yet available.