Gelotophobia, the fear of being laughed at

This is the website accompagnying the "Multination study on gelotophobia".


Based on clinical observations the German psychotherapist Michael Titze described putative long-term effects of early, intense and repeated exposure to mockery and not being taken seriously, namely what he coined the term gelotophobia (i.e., the fear of being laughed at; from gelos = Greek for laughter). According to Titze (1996) certain patients seem to be primarily concerned with being laughed at by others, as they are convinced to be ridiculous objects.

Experimental Study of gelotophobia

The Zurich-based research group conducted first empirical studies on this new concept. First, it was shown that a group of diagnosed gelotophobes (by clinical experts) could be separated empirically from groups of normal controls, non shame-based, and shame-based neurotics by means of a list of statements describing the experiential world of gelotophobes (Ruch & Proyer, 2008). In a follow-up study assessment criteria for gelotophobia were defined and an economic scale for the subjective assessment of gelotophobia was introduced (Ruch & Proyer, 2008). In our research group we currently study gelotophobia in its relation to personality, well-being, orientations to happiness, body image, emotions (in particular fear and shame), humor, interpretation of ambiguous acoustic and visual stimuli as well as physiological and psycho-motor expressions (among others). Based on these studies we were able to demonstrate the existence of the phenomenon through different strategies; i. e., in self-reports, semi-projective tests, and experimental settings. Recently, the joy of being laughed at (gelotophilia) and the joy of laughing at others (katagelasticism) were also studied (see Ruch & Proyer, 2009). See here for the Wikipedia entries on gelotophobia, gelotophilia, and katagelasticism.