The En joyment of Sexist Humor, Rape
Attitudes, an d Relationship Aggression in
Kath ryn M. Ryan
an d Jean n e Kan jorski
Lycom ing College
The curren t study tested Freud’s (1905/1960) theory that sexist humor may be
asso cia ted with hostility toward wom en an d extended previou s research
showing a lin k between hostile hum or an d aggression. Colleges students (N =
399 - appro xim ately 92% wh ite, 5% Africa n Am erican , an d 3% other
minorities) rated 10 sexist jokes on their perceived funn iness. Results showed
that the enjoym ent of sexist humor was positively correlated with rape-related
attitu d es and b eliefs, th e self-repo rted likelih oo d o f fo rc in g sex, an d
psyc h olo gical, ph ysic al, an d sexual aggressio n in m en . For wom en , the
enjoyment of sexist humor was on ly po sitively correlated with Adversarial
Sexual Beliefs and Acceptan ce of Interpersonal Violen ce. Wom en also fou nd
the jokes to be less enjoyable, less acceptable, and more offensive than the
men, bu t they were not significan tly less likely to tell the jokes.
The curre nt study extends prior re se arch showing attitude s are an impor-
tant predictor of se xual aggre ssion in men. It also builds on the ory and
rese arch on motives unde rlying sexist and hostile humor. It does so by ex-
ploring the relationship between the enjoyme nt of se xist humor and rape-
supportive attitude s, se xually coercive behavior, and courtship viole nce in
colle ge men and women.
Sex Roles, Vol. 38, No s. 9/10, 1998
0360-0025/98/ 0500-0743$ 15.00/0
1998 Pl enum Pub lishing Corporation
This article was based on Jeanne Kanjorski
s Honors project. It was prese nted at the 22
Annual Meeting of the Association for Women in Psychology, Pi ttsburgh, PA, March, 1997.
We would like to thank Kim We ikel for he r assistance in ru nning the study and Gene
Spre chini for his advice on the statistical analyses. We would also like to thank Kim We ikel
and anonymous revie wers for comme nts on an e arlier version of the manuscript.
To whom corresponde nce should be addressed at De partment of Psychology, Box 1, Lycom-
ing College, Williamsport, PA 17701.