People perceive those with an affiliative humour
style more positively than they do people with
an aggressive or self-defeating humour style. In
particular, when asking people to rate others on
romantic attractiveness, humour styles played a
significant role. Targets who were described as
having more benign humour styles such as affiliative were seen to be more warm, more trust
worthy and more attractive than those described
as having an aggressive or self-defeating humour style. Again, it is important to note that this
does not mean that people who use aggressive
or self-defeating humour even occasionally are
not well liked. It is a matter of balance.
Why do we like people who use this kind of humour and find them more attractive as romantic
partners? Researchers believe that humour is
a very important way of establishing and maintaining social relationships, and that social relationships are important for our physical and psychological well-being. When we have stronger
social relationships, we have greater access to
support if we are ever in need.
It is also important that we feel that others have
a similar sense of humour to ourselves, and this
might be our own individual balance of the four
humour styles. Researchers from the UK conducted an experiment where participants rated
humorous or non-humorous statements on how
much they liked them.
They were later shown what they were told was
the information of someone who had similar ratings. They were then asked if they thought they
would get on with this other person. Shared
appreciation of both humourous and non-hu-
morous stimuli was related to greater perceived
liking of this fictitious other. People were also
asked if they would be willing to share their research participation credits with this other person. Shared appreciation of the humorous statements, but not the other statements, increased
the likelihood that people would behave more
altruistically and share their credits.
“People perceive those with an affiliative humour style more positively than they do people with an aggressive or self-defeating humour
When we talk about humour in research terms,
it is more than just what is funny, it is the motivation behind it, the characteristics related to
it, and importantly the outcomes of its use. Affiliative humour is probably what most people
first think of, but there are different styles that
have different motivations, characteristics and
outcomes. As you read this issue, think about
when you use the styles, what styles you may
use most and why you choose to use them.