People have different responses to being laughed at, including fear of being laughed at, joy from being laughed at and joy from hearing others laugh. Previous studies have indicated that men have a higher tendency of laughing at others, but there were no gender differences on terms of the other two responses. Socioemotional selectivity theory indicates that individuals pay less attention to negative stimuli as they get older. It is worth investigating whether the gender differences of gelotophobia and gelotophilia occur in certain developmental stages. The present study is a cross-sectional study, with a sample size of 1247 participants; we collected information regarding laugh-related traits among participants 11–66 years old, and we particularly focused on the moderation effect of age on gender differences on gelotophobia, gelotophilia and katagelasticism. The results showed that men had a stronger tendency for laughing at others, but there were no significant gender differences on terms of gelotophobia and gelotophilia; age not only moderated the relationship between gender and gelotophobia but also the relationship between gender and katagelasticism. Male adolescents had higher incidences of gelotophobia and katagelasticism than female adolescents, but this finding was not consistent in the middle adulthood sample. The present study found age to be a moderator between gender and laugh-related traits, and it indicated the influence of age on the fear of being laughed at during early adolescence, but there was no gender difference with respect to katagelasticism in middle adulthood.
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