What's in a Jewish joke

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The purpose of this study is to answer the question, what determines the perception of jokes as Jewish? Jokes were manipulated to represent in various degrees eight facets characterizing ethnic elements in jokes: (1) name of hero; (2) names of secondary heroes; (3) roles; (4) subgroups; (5) culture; (6) location; (7) language; (8) stereotypes specifically related to Jewish context. Two samples of students (N=40 each) were asked to rate each joke on its degree of Jewishness. Hypotheses were (1) jokes with Jewish elements from the above facets will be rated as more Jewish compared with the same jokes with non-Jewish elements; (2) the more Jewish elements from the above facets a joke contains, the more Jewish it will be rated as; (3) some facets will have more influence on the perception of Jewishness than others. Results supported hypotheses 1 and 2 but not 3. Implications for research on the ethnicity of jokes are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-260
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


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