Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Humor and ideology

Do conservatives and liberals have different senses of humor? Amanda Balzer points me to a telling article by Glenn Wilson called "Ideology and Humor Preferences" (gated), published in 1990 in the International Political Science Review, in which the author finds important differences in the appreciation of types of jokes by ideology. Important graph:
According to the study, conservatives love puns, while liberals don't seem to find them very funny. Conversely, liberals are much more likely than conservatives to find sexual jokes funny. It's not too surprising to find that liberals are more appreciative than conservatives of anti-authority jokes, but liberals, interestingly, really seem to like jokes that mock hippies.

I wouldn't be surprised to find that many of these differences have changed over the past two decades. Wilson suggests in the text that younger liberals were becoming less tolerant of crude sexual jokes, while I'm thinking that younger conservatives have embraced them more.

I should mention that Amanda pointed this research out to me during a Twitter discussion about whether Victoria Jackson and Dennis Miller have become less funny over the years or whether they just seem less funny to me as our respective ideologies diverge. This could make for some great research designs.

1 comment:

Steve Greene said...

How much of this is just age? Presumably, older people would be more into puns, less into sex. Also made me think of Jost's work on ideology which I was just reviewing for class today.