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Putting “Laughing at Yourself” to the Test


Hofmann, Jennifer (2018). Putting “Laughing at Yourself” to the Test. HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research, 31(2):273-286.

Abstract

McGhee described the ability to laugh at yourself as a facet of the sense of humor that is malleable and constitutes the fifth out of six facets forming the sense of humor. Also, McGhee made it measurable by including it in the Sense of Humor Scale (SHS McGhee, Paul E. 1996. Health, healing, and the amuse system (2. edition): Humor as survival training. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing). The current study investigated whether individuals (N=78) could laugh at photos in which their face was distorted and mocking captions were added (multi-method approach: self-reports, facial responses assessed by the Facial Action Coding System, unobtrusive measures). Moreover, as two possible pre-conditions of being able to laugh at yourself, acceptance and importance of one’s physical appearance were studied. The results show that individuals indeed get amused about themselves, yet, laughing at yourself in McGhee’s sense was a better predictor of the absence of negative responses towards the stimuli (in reported emotions, facial responses, ratings of photos) than the presence of positive responses. Accepting ones appearance correlated positively to laughing at yourself. Thus, to be able to laugh at yourself seems to be a continuum, starting from not feeling negatively about being the target of a joke to “hearty laughter”.

Abstract

McGhee described the ability to laugh at yourself as a facet of the sense of humor that is malleable and constitutes the fifth out of six facets forming the sense of humor. Also, McGhee made it measurable by including it in the Sense of Humor Scale (SHS McGhee, Paul E. 1996. Health, healing, and the amuse system (2. edition): Humor as survival training. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing). The current study investigated whether individuals (N=78) could laugh at photos in which their face was distorted and mocking captions were added (multi-method approach: self-reports, facial responses assessed by the Facial Action Coding System, unobtrusive measures). Moreover, as two possible pre-conditions of being able to laugh at yourself, acceptance and importance of one’s physical appearance were studied. The results show that individuals indeed get amused about themselves, yet, laughing at yourself in McGhee’s sense was a better predictor of the absence of negative responses towards the stimuli (in reported emotions, facial responses, ratings of photos) than the presence of positive responses. Accepting ones appearance correlated positively to laughing at yourself. Thus, to be able to laugh at yourself seems to be a continuum, starting from not feeling negatively about being the target of a joke to “hearty laughter”.

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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
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Language and Linguistics
Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Social Sciences & Humanities > General Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Linguistics and Language
Language:English
Date:25 April 2018
Deposited On:14 Mar 2018 14:15
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 07:05
Publisher:De Gruyter
ISSN:0933-1719
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2016-0075

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