“Just Kidding” Falls on Deaf Ears
Teasing taken literally is negative; teasers point out flaws, habits, questionable attire, or other traits of the target. But there are a variety of intentions for teasing. Positive intentions include to socialize, flirt, play, entertain, teach, or show affection. However, teasing can also be used for negative intentions: to humiliate, harass, or hurt the target.
Previous studies have shown that targets of the teasing often have a more negative impression of the tease than the teaser. (tongue twister alert)
To mitigate the negative intentions of the tease, people generally use gestures, facial expressions, or tone of voice to say “aha, just kidding”. However, this fails because the targets still evaluate the intentions of the teaser more negatively.
Kruger, J., Gordon, C. L., & Kuban, J. (2006). Intentions in Teasing: When “Just Kidding” Just Isn’t Good Enough. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(3), 412-425.