Children’s Understanding of Self-Focused Humor Styles


  • Lucy Amelia James
  • Claire Louise Fox


It has been proposed that four main styles of humor exist, two which are thought to be adaptive (affiliative, self-enhancing) and two which are thought to be maladaptive (aggressive, self-defeating). Whilst the existence of these four humor styles has been supported in older children, it is suggested that for younger children, self-enhancing and self-defeating humor may develop at a later point. To investigate this further, the current research involved five semi-structured paired interviews with children aged eight to eleven years to explore the use and understanding of self-enhancing and self-defeating humor in this age group. Findings indicated that use of both self-enhancing and self-defeating humor were apparent in some children, but not all. It therefore seems appropriate that attempts to investigate humor in this age group should aim to include all four styles of humor. The current research also demonstrated the value of paired interviews when carrying out this sort of research with children.