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” clause. 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