Humor in Workgroups and Teams
John Crowe, Joseph A. Allen, & Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” -E. E. Cummings
Humor is an inherently social phenomenon. In the workplace, humor manifests most
prominently in teams of employees that work together (e.g., Lefcourt, 2001; Shiota, Campos,
Keltner, & Hertenstein, 2004; Ziv & Gadish, 1989). Humor in workgroups and teams can be a
powerful positive resource and has been linked to a number of positive outcomes. In
organizations, humor has the potential to enhance group cohesiveness (Duncan, 1982), improve
employee morale (Gruner, 1997), stimulate individual and group creativity (Csikszentmihalyi,
1996; Murdock & Ganim, 1993), create a more positive organizational culture (Clouse &
Spurgeon, 1995), and to promote motivation (Crawford, 1994; Dienstbier, 1995; Lippitt, 1982)
and productivity (Clouse & Spurgeon, 1995; Duncan & Feisal, 1989). Thus, the purpose of this
chapter is to review how humor in teams might play a key role in driving these workplace
outcomes. By discussing what is known about humor in teams, the chapter concludes with ideas
for future inquiry in the area of humor in teams, particularly in terms of interaction processes and
Humor in Team Meetings
Humor is a positive affective experience that is typically shared in a social context with others
(e.g., Johnson, 2007). As such, we need to focus on specific social settings for understanding the
role and effects of humor in the workplace. In the organizational context, one of the most
universal events for examining social interactions among employees and within teams is the
workplace meeting. The use of meetings has been increasing in recent years, especially among
upper-level managers (Allen & Rogelberg, 2013). In fact, approximately 25 million meetings
take place every day in the United States alone (Allen, Lehmann-Willenbrock, & Rogelberg,
2015). Meetings are affective events and an important context for studying socially shared
affective experiences (e.g., Lei & Lehmann-Willenbrock, 2015; Rogelberg, Allen, Shanock,
Scott, & Shuffler, 2010). In a study conducted on firefighters, a thematic analysis demonstrated
that humor was one of eight emergent themes that individuals identified as a good or wanted
behavior in a meeting (Crowe, Allen, Scott, & Harms, 2013). Thus, as the interaction in a
meeting plays out, the interchange of ideas as well as a variety of shared affective experiences
such as conflict, trust, and, of importance to this chapter, humor, may emerge.
Building upon the assumption that humor occurs in meetings as a shared social activity, humor
has the ability to strengthen interpersonal dynamics and organizational relationships (Cooper,
2008). According to Holmes, humor contributes to a workplace culture and humor is identifiable
in many workplaces. In some research, this function is linked to Brown and Levinson’s (1987)
concept of humor as a positive face strategy (Rogerson-Revell, 2007). During workplace
meetings, one can observe the emergence of humor in process. This includes the elements
facilitating humor events, the humor act itself, and subsequent laughter or other reactions (or lack
thereof). But first, it is important to understand what makes something funny. We turn our
attention now to theories of humor as they are manifest in teams with an eye toward how humor
emerges in team meetings and team interaction.
Humor Theories in Teams
The humor literature contains three primary theories of humor: incongruity theory, relief theory,
and superiority theory. According to all of these theories, what is humorous is determined by the
interactions among individuals and the behavior elicited by the humorous action. That is, humor
occurs through interaction and in many cases, these interactions occur in groups and teams.
Thus, we review these theories briefly so as to provide the context for understanding humor in
First, incongruity theory is based on the premise that surprises and novel circumstances are
essential for something to be perceived as funny (Meyer, 2000). Incongruity humor functions by
establishing an incompatibility between two different sets of expectations, and the sudden
resolution of that incompatibility by the recipient (Suls, 1972). Humor, then, can be seen as
problem solving which results in pleasure (e.g., laughter) when resolved. This form of humor is
found amusing if it is irrational, paradoxical, illogical, incoherent, fallacious, or inappropriate.
For example, consider following joke by comedienne Mackenzie Harms; “What did the 0 say to
the 8? Nice belt!” The incongruity is established in the joke’s set-up by initiating incompatible
schemata in the recipient – in that numbers are used for calculations, and numbers do not talk.
The punchline draws on a third schema (i.e., the visual representation of the numbers) to allow
the recipient to resolve what previously felt incongruous. The sudden experience of resolution
Second, relief theory postulates that humor triggers laughter which, in turn, releases tension
(Shurcliff, 1968). Laughter is a complex body movement that has been found to ease muscle
tension, break spasm-pain cycles, clear ventilation and mucus plugs, and increase oxygen and
nutrients into tissues, which helps fight infection (Fry, 1992). Laughter has also been linked to
elevated pain thresholds (Dunbar, Baron, Frangou, Pearce, van leeuwen, Stow, Partridge,
Macdonald, Barra, & van Vugt, 2011). The work of Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams relates to
these findings. Dr. Adams is both a medical doctor and a clown who believes that laughter, joy,
and creativity are an integral part of the healing process. Subsequently, he opened the
Gesundheit! Institute which combines traditional medicine with performing arts, crafts, nature,
agriculture, and recreation in groups.
Third, superiority theory originally suggested that a person laughs about misfortunes of others
(Schadenfreude), because these misfortunes assert the person's superiority in light of the
shortcomings of others. However, more nuanced understandings of the theory suggest that
humor is used to gain control (LaFave, Haddad, & Maeson, 1976) and feel superior (Ziv &
Labelle, 1984). The mechanism of control can be seen in a joke that goes, “I’m so dumb, the
closest I ever got to a 4.0 was my blood alcohol content.” This allows others to laugh at the joke
teller for not being superior, while simultaneously gaining status by making fun of him- or
herself. What is clear in the above examples of the various humor theories is there is a unifying
chord to humor: it makes us feel better. However, what people find humorous is as varied as
people themselves. In fact, Thomae and Pina (2015) postulate that although humor is common,
perceptions of humor are extremely idiosyncratic.
Given these theoretical frameworks for understanding humor, it is important to recognize that
humor has the power to make even the most mundane team tasks pleasurable (Holmes, 2006).
But because not all people interpret statements considered to be humorous in the same way, we
must pay attention to differences in humor types and styles. According to Martin, Puhlik-Doris,
Larsen, Gray, and Weir (2003), there are four basic types of humor that arise including affiliative
(focused on the enhancement of relationships), aggressive (at the expense of others), self-
defeating (at the expense of one’s self), and self-enhancing (bolstering the view of one’s self)
variants. The use of these different humor styles is thought to have implications for
psychological wellbeing and health (Martin et al., 2003). Relatedly, Wanzer, Sparks, and
Frymier (2009) found that those who engage in positive humor often exhibit higher self-esteem
and lower levels of depression. As such, humor plays a vital role in increasing positive team
outcomes. The question, then, is how to facilitate a humorous group interaction. As noted earlier,
team meetings are the ideal location for humor to infuse an organization’s culture. Thus, we now
turn to the positive effects of team humor and then focus on both leader humor behavior and
humor through team interaction.
Positive Effects of Team Humor
Oscar Wilde wrote, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill
you.” What Wilde is elucidating here is the utility of humor in opening up interpersonal
relations. In bringing laughter, the momentary behavioral expression of a shared affection opens
a positive socioemotional connection (Ziv, 2010). The research on the effects of humor in the
workplace has revealed that humor affects variables ranging from socialization, bonding, stress,
burnout, and employee morale to productivity, creativity, and performance (e.g., Mesmer-
Magnus, Glew, & Viswesvaran, 2012; Romero & Cruthirds, 2006). Humor also significantly
affects team relationships (Cooper 2008) by allowing individuals to mitigate withdrawal and
negative socioemotional behaviors such as burnout (Talbot & Lumden, 2000) by strengthening
group cohesion (Walter & Bruch, 2008). Studies have shown humor may reduce burnout by
helping employees deal with difficult situations, release tension, regain perspective on their jobs,
and facilitate an optimistic reinterpretation of events (Abel, 2002; Talbot & Lumden, 2000).
In addition to its effects on employees’ personal outcomes, humor has been shown to be
positively associated with work-related outcomes. Numerous studies have found the positive
effects of humor, including improving the quality of team functioning and performance under
stress (Bizi, Keinan, & Beit-Hallahmi, 1988), an increase in mental flexibility (Derks, Gardner,
& Agarwal, 1998; Morreall, 1991), and an increase in openness to constructive feedback which
motivates teams to stretch beyond their assumed limits (Berg, 1990).
Previous research has suggested that group level humor strengthens organizational outcomes.
For instance, group level humor can be used to communicate information or to make a
potentially controversial point in a positive way (Ullian, 1976), facilitate higher levels of trust
(Hampes, 1999), reduce social distance between group members (Graham, 1995), and assist in
creating the group’s identity (Weick & Westley, 1996). Research also suggests humor promotes
team cohesion via increased group harmony, collegiality, and inter-member attractiveness
(Holmes, 2006). Emphasizing shared values (Meyer, 1997; Robert & Yan, 2007) and masking
the unpleasant content of messages (Holmes, 2000) has also been shown to facilitate teamwork.
It has been suggested that team humor can operate as a social lubricant (Morreall, 1991) which
generates positive affect among group members (Byrne & Neuman, 1992), helping to build
group consensus (Coser, 1960), and limiting friction in interactions (Fine & DeSoucey, 2005).
Individual level humor has been shown to increase positive emotions shared among coworkers,
which contributes to a positive affect spiral that promotes improved coworker relationships,
member performance, organizational citizenship behaviors, and work satisfaction (Evans &
Dion, 1991; Gully, Devine, & Whitney, 1995; Mullen & Copper, 1994). These are all factors
which are also known to relate to reduced work withdrawal and turnover (Podsakoff, LePine, &
LePine, 2007; Tett & Meyer, 1993). Humor has also been associated with reduced absenteeism,
job satisfaction (Brief & Weiss, 2002; Booth-Butterfield, Booth-Butterfield, & Wanzer, 2007;
Parsons, 1988; Robert & Yan, 2007), higher organizational commitment, and lower turnover
intentions (Brief & Weiss, 2002). Further, in a study conducted by Priest and Swain (2002),
employees were asked to recall good or bad leaders and rate their use of humor. They found that
good leaders were reported to use significantly more humor. Given this finding, we now turn our
attention to team leaders and the humor they introduce in their teams.
Humor and Team Leaders
Team leaders are positioned well to have a disproportionately powerful impact on employees’
behavior through humor efforts, partly stemming from their own sense of humor (Priest &
Swain, 2002). Leaders who are seen as effectively using humor may be more persuasive than
their less-humorous counterparts, as humor creates positive affect (Kuiper, McKenzie, &
Belanger, 1995), increases liking for the source (Morkes, Kernal, & Nass, 1999), suggests a
shared set of personal values (Meyer, 1997), and increases trust in the source (Hampes, 1999).
Humor by leaders has been shown to reduce withdrawal behaviors and increase subordinate job
satisfaction and commitment in teams (Burford, 1987; Decker, 1987). For instance, as one of the
authors observed, a bank call center was having a team meeting in which everyone congregated
around the office cubicles. One of the employees opened her desk drawer to retrieve both an
orange and a tangerine while the manager was speaking. The manager stopped what she was
saying and joked, “That’s amazing! You’re growing an orchard in your desk!” - which provoked
abrupt laughter. Later that week the manager brought in a potted orange tree. From that point on
the orange tree’s fruit acted as a unifying experience and when an employee would outperform
their metrics he or she would go get an orange.
Supervisor humor may operate by having the dual influence potential of securing power and
reducing social distance between supervisors and the teams in their charge (Romero & Cruthirds,
2006). Leader humor may also increase creativity, but may also improve performance by
facilitating group learning, helping change behavior, and reducing perceived threat associated
with organizational change (Barbour, 1998). According to Dixon (1980), leaders who
appropriately used humor inspired their teams to find creative and innovative solutions to
complex problems. An example of this can be seen in the film The Internship in which the
protagonists, Billy and Nick, playfully banter with their team and, in the end, cause the members
of their team to each play to his or her strengths, thereby winning the competition. As we see,
the use of humor by leaders is associated with increases in unit performance (Avolio, Howell, &
Sosik, 1999) and has important implications for team satisfaction with supervisors (Decker &
Rotondo, 1999; Crawford, 1994; Vinton, 1989).
In sum, humor theories help explain how humor emerges in teams, how humor produces positive
outcomes for teams, and how leaders may serve as one mechanism for facilitating those positive
outcomes. The unifying thread through this section is the observation that all this humor
behavior occurs through interaction among individuals within their teams. It is to these
interactive processes that we now turn.
Humor as a Team Interaction Process
The fact that humor is embedded within social contexts is reflected in most theoretical
perspectives on humor as well as definitions of workplace humor. For example, Romero and
Cruthirds (2006) define humor in workplace settings as "amusing communications that produce
positive emotions and cognitions in the individual, group, or organization" (p. 59), and Cooper
(2008) defines it as "any event shared by an agent (e.g. an employee) with another individual
(i.e. a target) that is intended to be amusing to the target and that the target perceives as an
intentional act" (pp. 766-767). Inherent in these definitions is the notion that humor and laughter
are intertwined, as humor is often a trigger for laughter or other responses by the target.
Moreover, these perspectives emphasize the crucial role of interactions when considering how
humor emerges and is responded to.
However, previous empirical research has tended to neglect the social context in which humor
occurs, and research on socially embedded humor in the workplace is particularly sparse (e.g.,
Mesmer-Magnus et al., 2012). This is an important omission, as humor and laughter are often
bound to social settings. For example, we are 30 times more likely to laugh in a group than in
isolation (Johnson, 2007). Workplace humor is particularly context-bound, such that jokes
among co-workers are often obscure to outsiders (Holmes & Marra, 2002). Hence, to understand
why humor and laughter occur and how they may benefit individual and team outcomes,
researchers need to consider the conversational context surrounding humor and laughter
occurrences. Moreover, when considering humor as it occurs within the team interaction
process, researchers can examine how humor might trigger positive team experiences and create
a pleasant group mood (e.g., Lehmann-Willenbrock, Meyers, Kauffeld, Neininger, & Henschel,
2011; Lei & Lehmann-Willenbrock, 2015).
Interaction rituals (Collins, 2004) provide a theoretical lens for understanding how humor
embedded in dynamic conversations can facilitate collaboration. At the core of any interaction
ritual, participants focus their attention upon a common object or activity, explicitly
communicate this focus to each other, and become physiologically and emotionally synchronized
via cyclical patterns. In the case of humor and laughter, such shared patterns could build positive
momentum (Den Hartigh, Gernigon, van Yperen, Marin, & Van Geert, 2014) and hence promote
The notion of shared humor patterns as an interaction process in groups and teams is intuitively
appealing. Both humor and laughter should be considered, because positive, successful humor
typically requires a social reaction (i.e., laughter). Moreover, humor and laughter are often
ingrained in the context of a team’s interactions. Consider a team sharing an “insider joke” or
laughing at a funny statement during one of their meetings. If you are not part of the team, you
probably would not understand what was so funny because joking is so context-specific and
tends to refer to subtle group experiences that are difficult to discern by outsiders (e.g., Fine &
DeSoucy, 2005; Holmes & Marra, 2002).
In a recent study, we investigated the notion of shared humor patterns in a sample of 54
videotaped team meetings from two medium-sized organizations (Lehmann-Willenbrock &
Allen, 2014). We used the act4teams coding scheme (e.g., Kauffeld & Lehmann-Willenbrock,
2012) to slice the entire team meeting interaction into individual behaviors or statements by team
members that follow one another over time. To examine how humor patterns emerge, we used
lag sequential analysis, a statistical procedure that tests whether observed behavioral patterns
such as humor-laughter are meaningful rather than just occurring by chance (for a detailed
description of lag sequential analysis applied to team meeting interactions, see Lehmann-
Willenbrock, Allen, & Kauffeld, 2013).
Figure 1 shows a simplified summary of our findings. First, as expected, lag sequential analysis
revealed that humor typically occurred in humor-laughter patterns. Second, as illustrated in
Figure 1, we saw that these shared patterns triggered constructive team interactions in the events
following a pattern. Immediately after a humor-laughter pattern, teams often used structuring
statements, such as referring back to the meeting agenda (“So, let’s get back to our topic, which
was…”), summarizing the discussion (“Alright, so far we’ve talked about…”), or making a
procedural suggestion (“Ok, let’s talk about … next”). After these structuring statements, we
saw an increase in new ideas.
Insert Figure 1 About Here
The research results as illustrated by Figure 1 imply that shared humor patterns can serve an
important function for team problem-solving and creativity processes. Considering that many
team meetings have the purpose to solve problems and generate new ideas (e.g., Van Vree, 2011),
the finding that humor patterns triggered new ideas within the team interaction process is
particularly important. This finding also aligns with previous theorizing on the benefits of
positive humor for team functioning (Romero & Pescosolido, 2008) by showing how humor-
laughter patterns can trigger helpful communication dynamics, which may then aid team
performance more broadly.
Moreover, Figure 1 highlights the important role of procedural communication after a humor-
laughter pattern occurred. One reason why humor may be helpful in team interactions is because
it can break up tension and facilitate communication (e.g., Duncan, Smeltzer, & Leap, 1990;
Holmes & Marra, 2002; Meyer, 2000). The breaking up of tension that humor can do in teams is
highly consistent with relief theory as previously reviewed. As such, a humor pattern could
indicate a shift away from a difficult conversational moment, and a move toward more
productive discussion. Yet, such a shift seems to require more than just the occurrence of a
humor-laughter pattern. Procedural behaviors, such as referring to the meeting agenda or making
suggestions about what to discuss next, can leverage the positive energy from a humor pattern
and ensure that the team interaction stays on track (see also Lehmann-Willenbrock, Allen, &
As mentioned earlier, the observed humor patterns in these meetings were positively linked to
team performance, rated by the teams’ supervisors in this study. Interestingly, when we only
considered humor occurrences by themselves (rather than emergent patterns of humor and
laughter), we saw no significant impact on team performance. This result underscores the need
to consider humor as a shared, socially embedded interaction process rather than an isolated
phenomenon. Thus, consistent with the theories of humor previously reviewed, it is not enough
for humor behaviors to occur, but those behaviors must be found to be humorous by the target.
Thus, humor is quite idiosyncratic and the outcomes of humor behavior are not always easily
Where We Go From Here
The forgoing discussion of humor in the workplace, its manifestation in interactive processes,
and during workplace meetings leads us to the question of where research and inquiry and
application go from here in terms of workplace humor. Given that recent empirical findings
show that workplace humor is linked to team performance (Lehmann-Willenbrock & Allen,
2014), researchers and managers in organizations may want to investigate how to promote humor
interaction, the positive and uplifting type, in the workplace. Also, because humor appears to
emerge in patterns of mutually shared humor and laughter (Lehmann-Willenbrock & Allen,
2014), there needs to be more investigation of humor and laughter as embedded and shared in
dynamic social interactions (Klep, Wisse, & Van der Flier, 2011). Several avenues to promote
humor and study the process of humor in the workplace are worth considering here.
First, in addition to the conversational dynamics following humor patterns (see Figure 1), we
have yet to understand the antecedents of humor within the team interaction process. For
example, organizational culture may be an important antecedent to humor such that cultures that
are more open and psychologically safe may create an environment where playful and positive
forms of humor can be used successfully (Robert & Wilbanks, 2012). Additionally, from a
leadership perspective, one could imagine different styles of leadership may lend themselves
more to the use of humor by leaders and followers. For example, charismatic leaders may use
humor as a means to maintain the liking and devotion often associated with that leadership style.
In addition, the specific type of workplace humor needs to be considered (e.g., Romero &
Cruthirds, 2006). For example, Lehmann-Willenbrock and Allen (2014) only looked at positive
humor in relation to team performance. It may be that put-down humor or negatively based
sarcasm may have the opposite effect, though technically still a humor style. Moreover, whether
humor actually helps team functioning may be driven not only by micro-temporal contingencies
(such as necessary procedural statements in order to focus after a humor occurrence, Figure 1),
but also by the macro-temporal context in which humor occurs (e.g., early vs. later in a team's
life, when considering newly formed teams who collaborate over a period of time). For instance,
because team meetings have become a standard procedure in many contemporary organizations
(e.g., Liker, 2006), Lehmann-Willenbrock and Allen (2014) hypothesized and found that
extended humor patterns meaningfully related to team performance over time, highlighting the
potential of humor as a positive team resource.
One potential antecedent to workplace humor that needs investigation is workplace fun (Karl,
Peluchette, Hall, & Harland, 2005). Specifically, Karl and colleagues investigate how fun at
work promotes positive attitudes and behaviors in the workplace (see Karl, Peluchette, Hall, &
Harland, 2006). Workplace fun appears to promote positive perceptions of service quality, and
such experiences may very well promote humor patterns in interaction, both between employees
in an organization and between employees and customers, clients, and other stakeholders (Karl,
Peluchette, Harland, & Rodie, 2010). In the few, but growing number of studies on workplace
fun, humor has not received attention in terms of its role in creating an environment where
workplace fun can or would occur. Although workplace fun could cause humor behavior, it may
also be that humor behavior causes workplace fun. Perhaps humor is a subset of “fun” in the
workplace along with things like novelty of events (i.e. nontypical workplace activities) and
breaks in routine (i.e. work activities that disrupt normal workflow). Because precious little is
known about how fun impacts humor in the workplace, a processual study of groups interacting
may prove an important starting point. For example, if a workplace introduces fun activities into
the work environment, recording such events and analyzing the group or team interaction would
give insights into the effects of such events on humor behavior. Then a comparison could be
made between workplace fun events and, for example, routine meetings to see if humor occurs
with greater or lesser frequency during workplace fun events.
Second, workplace humor can be intertwined with gender issues. For example, Martin (2004)
conducted qualitative interviews and found that female middle managers used humor in their
meetings and in casual discourse in order to solve the paradox between being a woman and being
a manager. Rather than rational facts statements, humor is ambiguous or incongruous by
definition (Lynch, 2002), which may present a particularly useful tool for women in managerial
positions. Innovative quantitative methodologies to examine such questions might integrate
multilevel explanatory variables (e.g., individual gender; humor styles; team size) and time-
series modeling (e.g., turn-taking behavior; problem-solving behavior within the interaction
process; for a recent application of such methodology, see Lehmann-Willenbrock, Chiu, Lei, &
Kauffeld, in press).
Third, the ways in which humor and laughter are shared during team conversations may hinge
upon status differences (Robinson & Smith-Lovin, 2001). Laughter reactions can be "upward,”
such that team members laugh at their leaders' jokes but not necessarily vice versa. In that case,
hierarchy might undermine the facilitative function of humor and laughter for group functioning.
Hierarchy may also play a role in the intensity of laughter reactions to humor. Moreover,
"contagious" humor and laughter may be shaped by team leaders, similar to findings on
interpersonal positive affect sharing between team leaders and followers (Van Kleef, Homan,
Beersma, Van Knippenberg, & Damen, 2009). It is also possible that laughter in response to
leader humor might not be as diagnostic as laughter in response to co-worker humor due to the
relative social pressure to respond to leader humor. Lag sequential analysis can test these ideas
at the micro-level of behaviors following one another over time (e.g., Lehmann-Willenbrock et
al., 2013), while also accounting for hierarchical differences between team leaders and team
Humor is not an isolated event, but a shared social experience that unfolds during interactions
between individuals, often in groups and teams. Because humor is quite often a group or team
process, we tend to observe an actor engaging in behavior that they believe will elicit laughter.
Hence, we have argued that a focus on the fine-grained interaction dynamics that trigger humor
and emergent patterns that result from humor may yield the most fruitful continuation of the
investigation of humor in the workplace. With the prevalence of meetings in the workplace,
future research should focus on team meetings as a context for examining the antecedents and
consequences of humor in team interactions.
Abel, M. H. (2002). Humor, stress, and coping strategies. Humor: International Journal of
Humor Research, 15, 365-381.
Allen, J. A., Lehmann-Willenbrock, N., & Rogelberg, S. (2015). An introduction to the
Cambridge handbook of meeting science. In J. Allen, N. Lehmann-Willenbrock, & S.
Rogelberg (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of meeting science (pp. 3-11). New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Allen, J. A., & Rogelberg, S. G. (2013). Manager-led group meetings: A context for promoting
employee engagement. Group & Organization Management, 38, 543-569.
Avolio, B. J., Howell, J. M., & Sosik, J. J. (1999). A funny thing happened on the way to the
bottom line: Humor as a moderator of leadership style. Academy of Management
Journal, 42, 219-227.
Barbour, G. (1998). Want to be a successful manager? Now that’s a laughing matter! Public
Management, 80, 6-9.
Berg, D. H. (1990). Let’s get serious… about humor. Journal for Quality & Participation, 1, 80-
Bizi, S., Keinan, G., & Beit-Hallahmi, B. (1988). Humor and coping with stress: A test under
real-life conditions. Personality and Individual Differences, 9, 951-956.
Booth-Butterfield, M., Booth-Butterfield, S., & Wanzer, M. (2007). Funny students cope better:
Patterns of humor enactment and coping effectiveness. Communication Quarterly, 55,
Brief, A. P., & Weiss, H. M. (2002). Organizational behavior: Affect at work. Annual Review of
Psychology, 53, 279-307.
Brown, P., & Levinson, S. (1987). Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge,
UK: Cambridge University Press.
Burford, C. (1987). Humor of principals and its impact on teachers and the school. Journal of
Educational Administration, 25, 29-54.
Byrne, D., & Neuman, J. H. (1992). The implications of attraction research for organizational
issues. In K. Kelley (Ed.), Issues, Theory, and Research in Industrial/Organizational
Psychology (pp. 29-70). Amsterdam: North-Holland.
Clouse, R. W., & Spurgeon, K. L. (1995). Corporate analysis of humor. Psychology: A Quarterly
Journal of Human Behavior, 32, 1-24.
Collins, R. (2004). Interaction ritual chains. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Cooper, C. (2008). Elucidating the bonds of workplace humor: A relational process model.
Human Relations, 61, 1087-1115.
Coser, R. (1960). Some social functions of laughter: a study of humor in a hospital setting.
Human Relations, 12, 171-181.
Crawford, C. B. (1994). Theory and implications regarding the utilization of strategic humor by
leaders. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 1, 53-68.
Crowe, J., Allen, J., & Scott, C., Harms, M. (2013, July). After action reviews: Perspective from
those who engage. Research presented at the Interdisciplinary Network for Group
Research Conference, July 11-13, 2013, Atlanta, GA.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention.
New York: HarperCollins.
Decker, W. H. (1987). Managerial humor and subordinate satisfaction. Social Behavior and
Personality, 15, 225-232.
Decker, W. H., & Rotondo, D. M. (1999). Use of humor at work: Predictors and implications.
Psychological Reports, 84, 961-968.
Den Hartigh, R. J. R., Gernigon, C., Van Yperen, N. W., Marin, L., & Van Geert, P. L. C (2014).
How psychological and behavioral team states change during positive and negative
momentum. PLoS ONE, 9, e97887.
Derks, P., Gardner, J. B., & Agarwal, R. (1998). Recall of innocent and tendentious humorous
material. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 11, 5-19.
Dienstbier, R. A. (1995). The impact of humor on energy, tension, task choices, and attributions:
Exploring hypotheses from toughness theory. Motivation & Emotion, 19, 255-267.
Dixon, N. F. (1980). Humor: A cognitive alternative to stress?. In I. G. Sarason & C. Spielburger,
C. D. (Eds), Stress and anxiety (pp. 281-289). Washington, DC: Hemisphere.
Dunbar, R, Baron, R., Frangou, A., Pearce, E., van leeuwen, E., Stow, J., Partridge, G.,
Macdonald, I., Barra, V., & van Vugt, M (2011). Social laughter is correlated with an
elevated pain threshold. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological
Duncan, W. J. (1982). Humor in management: Prospects for administrative practice and research.
Academy of Management Review, 7, 136-142.
Duncan, W. J., & Feisal, J. P. (1989). No laughing matter: Patterns and humor in the workplace.
Organizational Dynamics, 17, 18-30.
Duncan, W. J., Smeltzer, L. R., & Leap, T. L. (1990). Humor and work: Applications of joking
behavior to management. Journal of Management, 16, 255-278.
Evans, C. R., & Dion, K. L. (1991). Group cohesion and performance: A meta-analysis. Small
Group Research, 22, 175-186.
Fine, G. A., & DeSoucey, M. D. (2005). Joking cultures: Humor themes as social regulation in
group life. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 18, 1-22.
Fry, W. (1992). The physiological effects of humor, mirth, and laughter. Journal of the American
Medical Association, 267, 1857–1858.
Graham, E. E. (1995). The involvement of sense of humor in the development of social
relationships. Communication Reports, 8, 158-170.
Gruner, C. R. (1997). The game of humor: A comprehensive theory of why we laugh. New
Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
Gully, S. M., Devine, D. J., & Whitney, D. J. (1995). A meta-analysis of cohesion and
performance: Effects of levels of analysis and task interdependence. Small Group
Research, 26, 497-520.
Hampes, W. P. (1999). The relationship between humor and trust. Humor: International Journal
of Humor Research, 12, 253-259.
Holmes, J. (2000). Politeness, power and provocation: How humour functions in the workplace?
Discourse Studies, 2, 159–185.
Holmes, J. (2006). Sharing a laugh: Pragmatic aspects of humor and gender in the workplace.
Journal of Pragmatics, 38, 26–50.
Holmes, J., & Marra, M. (2002). Having a laugh at work: How humor contributes to workplace
culture. Journal of Pragmatics, 34, 1683–1710.
Johnson, S. (2007, July 10). What’s so friggin' funny? Nothing—laughter is simply how we
connect. Retrieved January 3, 2016, from
Karl, K., Peluchette, J., Hall, L., & Harland, L. (2005). Attitudes Toward Workplace Fun: A
Three-Sector Comparison. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 12, 1-17.
Karl, K., Peluchette, J., Hall, L., & Harland, L. (2006). Attitudes Toward Workplace Fun Among
Public Sector Employees. Journal of Contemporary Business Issues, 14, 26-33.
Karl, K., Peluchette, J., Harland, L., & Rodie, A. (2010). Perceptions of service quality: What’s
fun got to do with it? Health Marketing Quarterly, 27, 155-172.
Kauffeld, S., & Lehmann-Willenbrock, N. (2012). Meetings matter: Effects of team meeting
communication on team and organizational success. Small Group Research, 43, 130–158.
Klep, A., Wisse, B., & Van der Flier, H. (2011). Interactive affective sharing versus non-
interactive affective sharing in work groups: Comparative effects of group affect on work
group performance and dynamics. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41, 312–323.
Kuiper, N. A., McKenzie, S. D., & Belanger, K. A. (1995). Cognitive appraisals and individual
differences in sense of humor: Motivational and affective implications. Personality and
Individual Differences, 19, 359-372.
LaFave, L., Haddad, J. & Maeson, W.A. (1976). Superiority, enhanced self-esteem and perceived
incongruity humor theory. In A.J. Chapman & H.C. Foot (Eds.), Humor and laughter:
Theory, research and applications (pp.63-91). New York: Wiley Press.
Lefcourt, H. M. (2001). Humor: The psychology of living buoyantly. New York: Kluwer
Lehmann-Willenbrock, N., & Allen, J. A. (2014). How fun are your meetings? Investigating the
relationship between humor patterns in team interactions and team performance. Journal
of Applied Psychology, 99, 1278-1287.
Lehmann-Willenbrock, N., Allen, J. A., & Kauffeld, S. (2013). A sequential analysis of
procedural meeting communication: How teams facilitate their meetings. Journal of
Applied Communication Research, 41, 365-388.
Lehmann-Willenbrock, N., Chiu, M. M., Lei, Z., & Kauffeld, S. (in press). Positivity as a
dynamic team phenomenon: A statistical discourse analysis. Group & Organization
Lehmann-Willenbrock, N., Meyers, R. A., Kauffeld, S., Neininger, A., & Henschel, A. (2011).
Verbal interaction sequences and group mood: Exploring the role of planning
communication. Small Group Research, 42, 639–668.
Lei, Z., & Lehmann-Willenbrock, N. (2015). Affect in meetings: An interpersonal construct in
dynamic interaction processes. In J. A. Allen, N. Lehmann-Willenbrock & S. G.
Rogelberg (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of meeting science (pp. 456-482). New York,
NY: Cambridge University Press.
Liker, J. (2006). The Toyota way fieldbook. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Lippitt, G. L. (1982). Humor: A laugh a day keeps the incongruities at bay. Training and
Development Journal, 36, 98-100.
Lynch, O. (2002). Humorous communications: Finding a place for humor in communication
research. Communication Theory, 12, 423-445.
Martin, D. M. (2004). Humor in middle management: Women negotiating the paradoxes of
organizational life. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 32, 147-170.
Martin, R. A., Puhlik-Doris, P., Larsen, G., Gray, J., & Weir, K. (2003). Individual differences
in uses of humor and their relation to psychological well-being: Development of the
humor styles questionnaire. Journal of Research in Personality, 37, 48-76.
Mesmer-Magnus, J., Glew, D. J., & Viswesvaran, C. (2012). A meta-analysis of positive humor
in the workplace. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 27, 155-190.
Meyer, J. C. (1997). Humor in member narratives: uniting and dividing at work. Western Journal
of Communication, 61, 188-208.
Meyer, J. C. (2000). Humor as a double-edged sword: Four functions of humor in
communication. Communication Theory, 10, 310-331.
Morkes, J., Kernal, H. K., & Nass, C. (1999). Effects of humor in task-oriented human-computer
interaction and computer-mediated communication: a direct test of SRCT theory.
Human-Computer Interaction, 14, 395-435.
Morreall, J. (1991). Humor and work. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 4, 359-
Mullen, B., & Copper, C. (1994). The relation between group cohesiveness and performance: An
integration. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 210-227.
Murdock, M. C., & Ganim, R. M. (1993). Creativity and humor: Integration and incongruity.
Journal of Creative Behavior, 27, 57-70.
Parsons, N. P. (1988). An exploration of the relationship between occupational stress and sense
of humor among middle-level managers. Dissertation Abstracts International, 49, 2119-
Podsakoff, N. P., LePine, J. A., & LePine, M. A. (2007). Differential challenge stressor-hindrance
stressor relationships with job attitudes, turnover intentions, turnover, and withdrawal
behavior: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 438-454.
Priest, R. F., & Swain, J. E. (2002). Humor and its impact on leadership effectiveness. Humor,
Robert, C. & Wilbanks, J. E. (2012). The wheel model of humor: Humor events and affect in
organizations. Human Relations, 65, 1071-1099.
Robert, C., & Yan, W. (2007). The case for developing new research on humor and culture in
organizations: Toward a higher grade of manure. Research in Personnel and Human
Resource Management, 26, 205-267.
Robinson, D. T., & Smith-Lovin, L. (2001). Getting a laugh: Gender, status, and humor in task
discussions. Social Forces, 80, 123-158.
Rogelberg, S. G., Allen, J. A., Shanock, L., Scott, C., & Shuffler, M. (2010). Employee
satisfaction with meetings: A contemporary facet of job satisfaction. Human Resource
Management, 49, 149-172.
Rogerson-Revell, P. (2007). Humour in business: A double-edged sword. A study of humour and
style shifting in intercultural business meetings. Journal of Pragmatics, 39, 4–28.
Romero, E., & Cruthirds, K. W. (2006). The use of humor in the workplace. Academy of
Management Perspectives, 20, 58-69.
Romero, E., & Pescosolido, A. (2008). Humor and group effectiveness. Human Relations, 61,
Shiota, M. N., Campos, B., Keltner, D., & Hertenstein, M. J. (2004). Positive emotion and the
regulation of interpersonal relationships. In P. Philippot & R. S. Feldman (Eds.), The
regulation of emotion (pp. 127-155). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Shurcliff, A. (1968). Judged humor, arousal, and the relief theory. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 8, 360-363.
Suls, J. M. (1972). Two-stage model for the appreciation of jokes and cartoons: Information-
processing analysis. In J. H. Goldstein & P. E. McGhee (Eds.), The psychology of humor
(pp. 81-100). San Diego: Academic Press.
Talbot, L. A., & Lumden, D. B. (2000). On the association between humor and burnout. Humor:
International Journal of Humor Research, 13, 419-428.
Tett, R. P., & Meyer, J. P. (1993). Job satisfaction, organizational commitment, turnover
intention, and turnover: Path analyses based on meta-analytic findings. Personnel
Psychology, 46, 259-293.
Thomae, M., & Pina, A. (2015). Sexist humor and social identity: The role of sexist humor in
men’s in-group cohesion, sexual harassment, rape proclivity, and victim blame. Humor:
International Journal of Humor Research, 28, 187-204.
Thorson, J. A., & Powell, F. C. (1993). Sense of humor and dimensions of personality. Journal
of Clinical Psychology, 49, 799-809.
Ullian, J. A. (1976). Joking at work. Journal of Communication, 26, 129-133.
Van Kleef, G. A., Homan, A. C., Beersma, B., Van Knippenberg, D. V., Van Knippenberg, B., &
Damen, F. (2009). Searing sentiment or cold calculation? The effects of leader emotional
displays on team performance depend on follower epistemic motivation. Academy of
Management Journal, 52, 562-580.
Van Vree, W. (2011). Meetings: the frontline of civilization. The Sociological Review, 59, 241-
Vinton, K. L. (1989). Humor in the workplace: It is more than telling jokes. Small Group
Behavior, 20, 151-166.
Walter, F., & Bruch, H. (2008). The positive group affect spiral: A dynamic model of the
emergence of positive affective similarity in work groups. Journal of Organizational
Behavior, 29, 239-261.
Wanzer, M. B., Sparks, L., & Frymier, A. B. (2009). Humorous communication within the lives
of older adults: The relationships among humor, coping efficacy, age, and life
satisfaction. Health Communication, 24, 128-136.
Weick, K., & Westley, F. (1996). Organizational learning: Affirming an oxymoron. In S. Clegg,
C. Hardy, & W. Nord (Eds.), Handbook of organizational studies (pp. 440-458).
Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Ziv, A. (2010). The social function of humor in interpersonal relationships. Society, 47, 11-18.
Ziv, A., & Gadish, O. (1989). Humor and marital satisfaction. Journal of Social Psychology, 129,
Ziv, A., & Labelle, F. (1984). Personality and sense of humor. New York: Springer Pub.
Figure 1. Lag sequential findings from a behavior-level process analysis of 54
organizational team meetings (simplified figure, adapted from Lehmann-Willenbrock &