Master's Theses

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Date of Award

Spring 1968

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Edna Rawlings


On the basis of the studies conducted by Clark, (1952), and Martin, (1964), it has been demonstrated that sexual arousal and inhibition could be produced experimentally. The purpose of this study was to empirically investigate the effects of sexual arousal and inhibition on the ratings of jokes. The study was conducted to add to the general body of scientific knowledge and at the same time add additional data for the purpose of standardization on Form B of the IPAT Humor Test. There were 64 single, male, undergraduate, volunteer students from General Psychology I discussion groups used as subjects for the experiment. The mean age was 18.7. Subjects in the study were randomly assigned to one of four experimental treatment groups: Permissive Arousal (PA), Inhibited Arousal (IA), Permissive Neutral (PN) or Inhibited Neutral (IN). The procedure used was to have subjects come in and individually be administered Form A or Form B of the IPAT. They were then instructed to return the following week for completion of the study. Upon their return, the following week, the subjects were asked if they would take a few minutes to participate in an additional study, unrelated to the one they had been participating in; all subjects agreed and at this point the experimental treatment was administered. One half of the subjects were then treated in a permissive or relaxed manner and were perm1tted to engage in a friendly discussion over familiar subjects. Inhibition was produced in the other half of the subjects by treat1ng them in a formal manner and causing them to reflect on parental attitudes. One half of each of these groups was then assigned to either a high or low arousal condition. High arousal treatment consisted of viewing and rating slides of attractive nude females while low arousal consisted of rating neutral slides of landscapes, architecture, or abstracts. The results indicate that both the arousal and inhibition treatment were effective. This was reflected in the differences as to the number of slides viewed and significance on the basis of an analysis of variance. The effect of the treatments was not, however, reflected in the IPAT test scores. The reason for this is probably best explained in terms of heterogeneity of subjects as to level sex drive in the groups. For example, the permissive arousal group appears to have been heavily populated with subjects having low sex drive as measured by the Epstein, (1957), Orgasm Scale. A significant result was found on Factor IV of the IPAT which reflected a general overall change in attitude toward the playfulness and away from gruesomeness. This was interpreted in terms of what may be called rapport or the subjects’ familiarity with the test situation. Finally, no significant difference was found between the two forms of the IPAT. For this reason, on the basis of this study, the forms probably can be considered as equivalent in future research.


Copyright 1968 August R. Tarasi


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