That's not funny: Understanding recipients' responses to teasing

Janet Alberts, Steven Corman, Steven R. Corman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


This study examines factors that influence recipients' responses to being teased. We analyzed the effect of tease topics, recipients' perceptions of the teaser's intent, and cues used by the recipients to determine intent. Participants reported they were the recipients of six types of teases: (1) things said, (2) appearance, (3) romance/sex, (4) abilities, (5) teasing, and (6) identity. Respondents indicated that they relied upon four different cues to determine the teaser's intent: (1) background knowledge, (2) context, (3) paralinguistics, and (4) self. Global analysis revealed a three-way interaction between cue, perception, and response. Local significance tests suggested that background cues contributed the most to this interaction and that negative and neutral responses had the largest effects. Specifically, respondents were more likely to perceive humorous intent overall, and they were more likely to respond positively when they ascribed humorous intent. However, when participants perceived serious intent, they were more likely to respond negatively. Of the four cues, self appeared to be the strongest mediator between respondents' perceptions of intent and their responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-357
Number of pages21
JournalWestern Journal of Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication


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