Reactions to Humorous Comments and Implicit Theories of Humor Styles


  • Nicholas A. Kuiper
  • Gillian A. Kirsh
  • Catherine Leite


The first two studies investigated reactions to several different types of humorous comments. Participants indicated they would be significantly more likely to continue interacting with a friend who used adaptive self-enhancing or affiliative humor rather than maladaptive aggressive or self-defeating humor; with the most detrimental effects being evident for aggressive humor. Adaptive humorous comments also made recipients feel significantly more positive and less negative about themselves. Humor styles were further investigated in terms of implicit theories about humor. Study 2 indicated that for the self, humor was perceived as being used most often with close friends, followed by family members, romantic partners, casual acquaintances, and least often with teachers. Participants also indicated that affiliative humor was used most frequently for each relationship, followed by self-enhancing humor, self-defeating humor, and then aggressive humor. Study 3 examined the perceived frequency of use for each humor style by others. Participants indicated affiliative humor to be the most frequently used humor style, regardless of the group being rated (people in general, people one knows, family and friends), self-enhancing humor to be the second most frequently used, and the two maladaptive humor styles as being used the least often. Different co-variation patterns for the four humor styles were also found. These findings were then discussed in terms of the strong differential impact of humor styles on the recipients of humorous comments; as well as the implicit theories of humor styles that are evident for self or others.