Humor Styles and Negative Affect as Predictors of Different Components of Physical Health


  • Nicholas A. Kuiper
  • Andrea L. Harris


The extent to which humor and negative affect each predict different components of physical health was examined by having 105 participants complete measures of four distinct humor styles, negative affect, and three indices of physical health. An increased number of physical symptoms and more negative attitudes about illness were associated with higher levels of negative affect, but were unrelated to the humor styles. Conversely, three of the humor styles significantly predicted coping strategies for physical ailments and complaints, whereas negative affect did not. Adaptive self-enhancing humor was associated with facilitative coping strategies such as changing perspective, planning, and the effective use of humor. Maladaptive aggressive humor was linked to a more dysfunctional coping pattern that included greater denial and a reduction in the ability to change perspective. These findings reinforce the need to consider more complex models of humor that explicitly address the effects of both adaptive and maladaptive humor styles across a broad range of physical health measures while also considering effects that may be attributable to other highly-relevant attributes, such as negative affect.