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Can people really “laugh at themselves?”—experimental and correlational evidence


Beermann, Ursula; Ruch, Willibald (2011). Can people really “laugh at themselves?”—experimental and correlational evidence. Emotion, 11(3):492-501.

Abstract

Laughing at oneself is considered a core component of the sense of humor in the theories of several
authors. In McGhee’s (1996) eight-step-training program of the sense of humor, laughing at oneself
constitutes one of the most difficult levels. However, until now, only little empirical evidence on laughing
at oneself exists. Using a multimethod approach, in the current study, 70 psychology students and a total
of 126 peers filled in the Sense of Humor Scale (SHS, McGhee, 1996), containing as a subscale
“Laughing at oneself”. In addition, the participants answered the Trait and State forms of the State-
Trait-Cheerfulness-Inventory (STCI, Ruch, Köhler, & van Thriel, 1996; Ruch, Köhler, & van Thriel,
1997). They then were confronted with six distorted images of themselves. Facial responses of the
participants were videotaped and analyzed using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS, Ekman,
Friesen, & Hager, 2002). Four indicators of exhilaration were examined: (a) experienced funniness, (b)
AU12 smiles, (c) Duchenne displays, and (d) laughter. Furthermore, fake and masking smiles were
studied. Results demonstrated that self- and peer reports of “laughing at oneself” converged moderately.
All four indicators of exhilaration were shown, but funniness and laughter seemed to be the most strongly
related indicators. Trait cheerfulness and (low) seriousness, and a cheerful mood state formed further
characteristics of persons who laugh at themselves.

Abstract

Laughing at oneself is considered a core component of the sense of humor in the theories of several
authors. In McGhee’s (1996) eight-step-training program of the sense of humor, laughing at oneself
constitutes one of the most difficult levels. However, until now, only little empirical evidence on laughing
at oneself exists. Using a multimethod approach, in the current study, 70 psychology students and a total
of 126 peers filled in the Sense of Humor Scale (SHS, McGhee, 1996), containing as a subscale
“Laughing at oneself”. In addition, the participants answered the Trait and State forms of the State-
Trait-Cheerfulness-Inventory (STCI, Ruch, Köhler, & van Thriel, 1996; Ruch, Köhler, & van Thriel,
1997). They then were confronted with six distorted images of themselves. Facial responses of the
participants were videotaped and analyzed using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS, Ekman,
Friesen, & Hager, 2002). Four indicators of exhilaration were examined: (a) experienced funniness, (b)
AU12 smiles, (c) Duchenne displays, and (d) laughter. Furthermore, fake and masking smiles were
studied. Results demonstrated that self- and peer reports of “laughing at oneself” converged moderately.
All four indicators of exhilaration were shown, but funniness and laughter seemed to be the most strongly
related indicators. Trait cheerfulness and (low) seriousness, and a cheerful mood state formed further
characteristics of persons who laugh at themselves.

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4 citations in Web of Science®
7 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:laughing at oneself, distorted portraits, Duchenne display, sense of humor, cheerfulness
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:17 Jun 2011 13:06
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:56
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:1528-3542
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/a0023444

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