Gelotophobia and bullying: The assessment of the fear of being laughed at and its application among bullying victims
ABSTRACT Within the framework of social interaction this paper relates experiences of being bullied to the fear of being laughed at (gelotophobia) in two empirical studies. Study 1 (N = 252) describes the adaptation of a German-language instrument for the assessment of gelotophobia into English (the GELOPH<15>). The translation yielded good psychometric properties (high reliability; α = .90). The one-factor solution of the original version could be replicated. Gelotophobia existed independently of age and gender but was more prevalent among those who were single. 13% exceeded a cut-off score, indicating a slight expression of gelotophobic symptoms. Study 2 (N = 102) used the English GELOPH<15> together with an instrument for assessing emotional reactions in mean-spirited ridicule and good-natured teasing situations (the Ridicule Teasing Scenario questionnaire; Platt, 2008). Results indicated that being a victim of bullying yielded higher shame responses to teasing scenarios, and lower happiness and higher fear in response to both types of laughter situations. Stepwise multiple regression showed that self-reported experiences of having been a victim of bullying were best predicted by low happiness during teasing and high fear in response to ridicule, but gelotophobia accounted for most of these effects. Results are discussed within the context of future studies on gelotophobia-bullying social relationships.