Next Article in Journal
Get Back: The New Galician Diaspora Goes on Stage
Next Article in Special Issue
The Cringe and the Sneer: Structures of Feeling in Veep
Previous Article in Journal
Salvaging Utopia: Lessons for (and from) the Left in Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts (2017), The Deep (2019), and Sorrowland (2021)
Previous Article in Special Issue
“Kill the Puppies!”: Cringe Comedy and Disability Humor in the Live Performances of Laurence Clark
 
 
Review

A Psychological Perspective on Vicarious Embarrassment and Shame in the Context of Cringe Humor

Social Neuroscience Lab, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Lübeck, D-23538 Lübeck, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Humanities 2021, 10(4), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10040110
Received: 22 June 2021 / Revised: 10 September 2021 / Accepted: 28 September 2021 / Published: 8 October 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Media and Politics in the Age of Cringe)
Cringe humor combines the seemingly opposite emotional experiences of amusement and embarrassment due to others’ transgressions of norms. Psychological theories and empirical studies on these emotional reactions in response to others’ transgressions of social norms have mostly focused on embarrassment and shame. Here, we build on this literature, aiming to present a novel perspective on cringe humor. To do so, we introduce the psychological literature on embarrassment and shame, as well as the processes involved that allow humans to also experience these emotions on behalf of others, and draw theoretical links to cringe comedy. We then systematically disentangle contexts in which audiences experience vicarious embarrassment, and structure our argument based on the ongoing processes and consequences of the observed transgressions of norms based on the constituting dimensions of awareness and intentionality of the normative transgression by the social target. We describe how the behavioral expressions of the target along with the social distance and the current motivations of the audience shape the emotional experience and negotiation of social norms, specifically in response to intentional normative transgressions. While this perspective makes it evident that cringe humor is closely linked to the debate around social normative standards between the actor/actress and the audience, we conclude that the different manifestations and specific situational characteristics have fundamentally different consequences for the affirmation or renegotiation of social normative standards. View Full-Text
Keywords: cringe humor; vicarious embarrassment; vicarious shame; social emotions; social norms; norm violations cringe humor; vicarious embarrassment; vicarious shame; social emotions; social norms; norm violations
MDPI and ACS Style

Mayer, A.V.; Paulus, F.M.; Krach, S. A Psychological Perspective on Vicarious Embarrassment and Shame in the Context of Cringe Humor. Humanities 2021, 10, 110. https://doi.org/10.3390/h10040110

AMA Style

Mayer AV, Paulus FM, Krach S. A Psychological Perspective on Vicarious Embarrassment and Shame in the Context of Cringe Humor. Humanities. 2021; 10(4):110. https://doi.org/10.3390/h10040110

Chicago/Turabian Style

Mayer, Annalina Valpuri, Frieder Michel Paulus, and Sören Krach. 2021. "A Psychological Perspective on Vicarious Embarrassment and Shame in the Context of Cringe Humor" Humanities 10, no. 4: 110. https://doi.org/10.3390/h10040110

Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop