Yawp Mag Issue 29 The Five Humour Styles | Page 14

self enhanc by Robyn Brown We have all experienced stress at some stage of our lives; stress over our careers, our finances, our relationships, the potential death of our favourite television characters. We have accepted that it is commonplace in today’s success-driven society and the ways in which we deal with this stress varies quite dramatically from person to person. Rod Martin uses the term self-enhancing humour to describe an intra-psychic form of humour used to cope with adversity and involves the ability to see the funny side of life. People who report using more of this style of humour are able to find amusement in their daily lives and often have their own internal jokes (like an “in-joke” with yourself!). Recently, while doing my grocery shopping, I noticed that the word condiments, when said slowly, sounds like the words “condom” and “mints”. Immediately, the image of tiny breath mints for condoms sprung to mind and aisle eight of Safeway witnessed my fits of giggles. Given its optimistic nature, it is not surprising that self-enhancing humour is associated with higher levels of self-esteem, greater psychological wellbeing, and higher perceived quality of life and is thought to be a healthy defense mechanism. These individuals avoid negative emotions, while still keeping a realistic perspective on a potentially aversive situation, and tend to possess a positive attributional style. In Psychology, attributional style refers to the way in which people explain life events. Negative attributional styles are used to describe maladaptive thinking in depression where these individuals are likely to explain the causes of negative events in terms of stable (unchanging), global and internal causes. For example, burning dinner might result in thoughts such as, “That was my fault” (internal), “I can’t do anything right” (this reflects a global feature of their personality) and “I am always going to hopeless at everything and I’ll never be able to cook dinner without it burning” (reflecting that is never going to change i.e. stable). Another important concept includes self-schemas, which are essentially an established pattern of thought summarizing a person’s perceptions of himself or herself and individuals diagnosed with depression tend to have a negative self-schema. Because schemas and attributional styles generally develop earlier in life, it has been argued that those individuals with early maladaptive schemas are less likely to engage in adaptive humour styles, such as self-enhancing humour. Dozois, Martin, Bieling (2009) gave 305 participants a questionnaire measuring depressive symptoms, humour styles and maladaptive schemas. They found that self-enhancing