Yawp Mag Issue 29 The Five Humour Styles | Page 11
were to think the joke teller believed what
they were saying. This essentially means
that if you say something quite offensive,
you cannot simply use the “I was just joking”
do not believe she meant to hurt her husband. So it is likely that some aggressive
humour is not meant to be hurtful.
In this way we could divide aggressive humour in the same way that we with self-defeating vs. self-deprecating. These two
forms of humour directed towards the self
contain similar content (i.e. making fun of
one’s own faults and foibles) but have very
different emotional intention and outcomes.
Aggressive humour that poses no threat
and has no intention to cause hurt, could
be seen as other-deprecating, the friendly
teasing between siblings or mates.
“...the more aggressive the person
sees the humour, they more likely
they are to believe the joke teller
meant to be hurtful.”
The critical question becomes, can someone else tell if you mean the joke to be hurtful or not? Recent research we’ve conducted at Swinburne suggests that people judge
the intention to hurt with the degree of aggressiveness in the humour.
Interestingly, in other research conducted
by my Ph.D. student Robyn Brown, people
often see what would technically be defined
as aggressive humour as affiliative. This
suggests that we are somewhat comfortable with friendly teasing as see it as a way
of making others laugh and putting everyone at ease.
To date most of the research examining aggressive humour explores facets of the person who uses aggressive humour and what
we find is that people who report using this
kind of humour report less need to please
others, but have a higher need for control.
They score more highly on measures of
neuroticism, but lower on measures of
agreeableness. There is also research on
aggressive humour in relationships and in
general people who use this kind of humour
have poorer interpersonal relationships, especially in romantic relationships. There is
research that illustrates the damage that aggressive humour can have in the workplace,
in particular when supervisors use aggressive humour with select staff members.
So while we may use aggressive humour
strategically, and we don’t always mean it
with malicious intent, we have to remember that the way people perceive the joke
may be very different from how we do, and
we may be causing damage that we’re unIn other words, the more aggressive the per- aware of.
son sees the humour, they more likely they
are to believe the joke teller meant to be
hurtful. Also, the more aggressive the humour was seen to be, the more likely people