Breaking ground in cross-cultural research on the fear of being laughed at (gelotophobia): A multi-national study involving 73 countries

Proyer R. T. , Ruch W., Ali N. S. , Al-Olimat H. S. , Amemiya T., Adal T. A. , ...More

HUMOR-INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMOR RESEARCH, vol.22, pp.253-279, 2009 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 22
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Doi Number: 10.1515/humr.2009.012
  • Page Numbers: pp.253-279


The current study, examines whether the fear of being laughed at (gelotophobia) can be assessed reliably and validly by means of a self-report instrument in different countries of the world. All items of the GELOPH (Ruch and Titze 1998; Ruch and Proyer 2008b) were translated to the local language of the collaborator (42 languages in total). In total, 22,610 participants in 93 samples from 73 countries completed the GELOPH. Across all samples the reliability of the 15-item questionnaire was high (mean alpha of. 85) and in all samples the scales appeared to be unidimensional The endorsement rates for the items ranged from 1.31% through 80.00% to a single item. Variations in the mean scores of the items were more strongly related to the culture in a country and not to the language in which the data were collected. This was also supported by a multidimensional scaling analysis with standardized mean scores of the items from the GELOPH < 15 >. This analysis identified two dimensions that further helped explaining the data (i.e., insecure vs. intense avoidant-restrictive and low vs. high suspicious tendencies towards the laughter of others). Furthermore, multiple samples derived from one country tended to be (with a few exceptions) highly similar. The study shows that gelotophobia can be assessed reliably by means of a self-report instrument in cross-cultural research. This study enables further studies of the fear of being laughed at with regard to differences in the prevalence and putative causes of gelotophobia in comparisons to different cultures.