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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2006 Mar;90(3):412-25.

Intentions in teasing: when "just kidding" just isn't good enough.

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  • 1Department of Marketing, Stern School of Business, New York University, New York, NY 10012, USA.


Teasing is ambiguous. Although the literal content of a tease is, by definition, negative, seldom do teasers intend for their tease to be taken literally. Toward this aim, teasers often attempt to mitigate the negative surface content of the tease by communicating via gesture, facial expression, or tone of voice that they are "just kidding." The research presented here suggests that such attempts often fall on deaf ears. Despite teasers' attempts to mitigate the tease, targets are often unaware of--and unmoved by--the teaser's benign intentions. As a result, teasers and targets systematically differ in their perceptions of teasing: Although it is often seen as innocent and playful by the teaser, it tends to be construed as considerably more malicious by the target.

Copyright (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved.

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