The Role of a Bystander in Targets’ Perceptions of Teasing Among Friends: Are You Really Teasing Me?

Ildo Kim, Nicholas A. Palomares


Teasing has an inherent potential for ambiguity because of the two opposing goals: to be playful and to be provocative. One means of disambiguation is the presence and reaction of a bystander. Yet, previous studies on teasing have focused on the dyad and less on the influence of a bystander. The present study attempts to examine how the presence and reaction of a bystander can influence targets’ perceptions of teasing between close friends. In particular, the current study predicted teasers’ and targets’ inferred playfulness and provocation teasing goals would impact targets’ responses to their partner’s messages (perceived funniness, hurt feelings, positive face threats, and negative face threats), and that the magnitude of this association would change depending on the presence or absence of a laughing or nonlaughing bystander. Results showed that the association among goals and targets’ perceptions depended on the presence and reaction of a bystander.


goals, interpersonal communication, social cognition, relationships

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