Did you know there is a sense of humor questionnaire? It’s called the Humor Styles Questionnaire and distinguishes between four styles of humor.
- Affiliative, use of humor to amuse others and facilitate relationships
- Self enhancing, use of humor to cope with stress and maintain a humorous outlook during times of difficulty
- Aggressive, use of sarcastic, manipulative, put-down, or disparaging humor
- Self-defeating, use of humor for excessive self-disparagement, ingratiation, or defensive denial
The first two positive styles are negatively correlated with anxiety and depression and positively correlated with self-esteem, extraversion, openness and agreeableness. The last two are negatively correlated with agreeableness and conscientiousness and positively correlated with neuroticism, hostility and aggression. But aside these correlations of more importance is the question: what does one of these styles tell you about the personality of the person with this distinct style pattern?
This was researched with a big five questionnaire (international personality item pool IPIP), the Rosenberg self-esteem scale and the humor styles questionnaire in 318 Australian participants of which 50% consisted of under and graduate university students and the remainder were chosen from the general population.
Four clusters of people were identified consisting of those who score: (1) above average on all of the styles, or (2) below average on all of the styles, or (3) above average on the positive styles (Affiliative and Self-enhancing), and below average on the negative styles (Aggressive and Self-defeating), or (4) above average on the negative styles and below average on the positive styles
Those participants who score high on average on all 4 styles are outgoing, impulsive and open to new experiences, those below average on all of the styles are restrained, not outgoing and well focused and organized. Recognizable, those with humor and those without are easily recognizable in these findings.
Those above average on the positive humor styles and below average on the negative humor styles are well balanced, low in anxiety, and positive towards themselves and others. They mostly use more lighthearted humor content, such as satire, irony,and philosophical humor.
Those in cluster 4, above average on the negative styles and below average on the positive styles are not open to new experiences and negative towards themselves as well as others:
Such people might use humor to defend against perceived threats to their self-image. Specifically, their use of aggressive humor can devalue those who they perceive as not valuing them. This could result in humor content which is sexist, racist, or sick
This research should be replicated and also focus more on other personality factors.
Galloway, G. (2010). Individual differences in personal humor styles: Identification of prominent patterns and their associates Personality and Individual Differences DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2009.12.007