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Risky Business: When Humor Increases and Decreases Status

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Abstract

Across 8 experiments, we demonstrate that humor can influence status, but attempting to use humor is risky. The successful use of humor can increase status in both new and existing relationships, but unsuccessful humor attempts (e.g., inappropriate jokes) can harm status. The relationship between the successful use of humor and status is mediated by perceptions of confidence and competence. The successful use of humor signals confidence and competence, which in turn increases the joke teller’s status. Interestingly, telling both appropriate and inappropriate jokes, regardless of the outcome, signals confidence. Although signaling confidence typically increases status and power, telling inappropriate jokes signals low competence and the combined effect of high confidence and low competence harms status. Rather than conceptualizing humor as a frivolous or ancillary behavior, we argue that humor plays a fundamental role in shaping interpersonal perceptions and hierarchies within groups.

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... Effective use of humor helps people to gain status, which is related to influence and leadership qualities (Bitterly, Brooks, & Schweitzer, 2017). Surprisingly, however, these beneficial effects have been shown mainly for men. ...
... However, the effect size-the strength of the gender difference-though statistically significant, was fairly small, and, as the authors explained, "… roughly half of the peer-reviewed publications revealed no significant sex differences…" (Greengross et al., 2020: 35). We also noticed that some studies showing the effectiveness of humor were conducted using humorous stimuli that may be more appropriate for men (e.g., Bitterly et al., 2017;Evans et al., 2019). Thus, it seems fair to say that the stereotypes about gender and humor are greater than actual differences in humor ability. ...
... Furthermore, the notion that women are not funny-or at least not as funny as menmay stem from the fact that humor is linked with status (Bitterly, et al., 2017). In most societies, men have higher status than women, and this power asymmetry enables men to express humor more freely. ...
... Both joking and laughing facilitate social interaction and help individuals cope with difficulties (Lefcourt & Martin, 1986;Martin et al., 2003;McGraw et al., 2014). Telling jokes can even boost an individual's relationships with others (Yam et al., 2018) as well as their status, provided the audience laughs (Bitterly et al., 2017). In addition, humorous conversation can boost perceptions of speakers' warmth and competence (Bitterly & Schweitzer, 2019). ...
... Individuals who listen to jokes may react in a variety of ways, with laughter being the most common behavioral response to experiencing humor (Martin, 2001). Indeed, laughter has social implications as it influences the extent to which jokes are perceived to be amusing (Smyth & Fuller, 1972) and successful (Bitterly et al., 2017). Given the key role that laughter plays in the experience of humor, what are the implications of laughter for how listeners' morality is evaluated, and how do they compare with the morality evaluations of joke-tellers? ...
... Thus, offensive jokes are likely to ignore or violate social boundaries and norms. Common examples include jokes of a racist, sexist, or otherwise bigoted nature (Bitterly et al., 2017). More mildly offensive or clean jokes generally include less severe violations or mishaps (e.g., stubbing a toe; McGraw et al., 2012). ...
Article
Humor involves both joke-tellers and listeners, both of whom are subject to observers' evaluations. Past research has suggested a tension between humor and morality such that moral individuals may be less humorous, and humor may promote tolerance of moral violations. Building on this work, we highlight that individuals engaging in humor are themselves subject to inferences of moral character. Joke-tellers are evaluated as less moral people when their jokes are offensive. Individuals who laugh at jokes are similarly evaluated as less moral, but only when the jokes are offensive, not clean. Across two experiments (Studies 1 and 2) using different manipulations, we found support for these effects and the mediating role of perceived norm violations. In Study 3, we further found preliminary evidence depicting nuanced similarities and differences between the effects on moral evaluations and other-person perceptions such as warmth and competence. These findings contribute to understanding of moral judgment in humor.
... The speaker's use of humor can determine the way the audience perceives the speaker's intentions and motives, which in turn, fundamentally alters the way the audience evaluates the speaker (Bitterly and Schweitzer, 2019). Indeed, it was indicated that the use of humor shapes IM processes (Cooper, 2005;Stoll, 2015;Bitterly et al., 2017). Humor can increase employees' positive evaluations of managers as it builds social relationships (Cooper, 2005). ...
... The associations are more complicated in terms of the relationship between humor and competence. In many ways, the decision to use humor can be a very risky business (Bitterly et al., 2017). On one hand, managers who use humor can be perceived as showing lower levels of competence because the use of humor in the workplace is viewed as inappropriate and distracting, and is associated with "playing around, " rather than focusing on tasks in a serious manner (Plester, 2009;Martin and Ford, 2018). ...
... Humor is an interpersonal form of communication that signals affection (Hoption et al., 2013) and warmth (Bitterly and Schweitzer, 2019). In addition, positive and funny humorous messages signal high confidence, competence, and power (Bitterly et al., 2017). ...
Article
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Humor is a form of communication that is intended to be entertaining and produce positive affective and cognitive responses from receivers. Nonetheless, humor in the workplace is a complicated matter. It has been recognized as a valuable tool for managers because it can activate various favorable outcomes and alter employees’ perception of the manager’s warmth and competence (impression management), but not always to the benefit of the manager. In our studies, the use of humor showed changed attitudes toward a manager’s warmth and competence, and eventually influenced the employee’s behavioral intentions. In Study 1, we tested the use of managerial humor in two emails. The humorous manager was perceived as warm, but not competent. Impression management mediated the employee’s willingness to work with the manager. In Study 2, we tested the use of managerial humor with one introductory email. In this study, we also monitored the gender of both the manager and the employee. Once again, the humorous manager was perceived as warm and humor mediated employees’ behavioral intentions. As for competence, gender moderated the results, such that male employees perceived humorous female managers as more competent, while female employees perceived humorous male managers as less competent. Practical implications are presented.
... Following the procedures used by Bitterly et al. (2017), participants were asked to give their evaluation of the leader's instructions on nine separate dimensions (engaging, funny, appropriate, entertaining, unhumourous, succinct, clear, memorable, humorous). We used the unhumorous item to measure absence of humour in leadership and combined funny and humorous to form a rating for presence of humour in leadership (r = .95). ...
... Absence of humour in leadership was assessed as it was in Study 1. We asked participants to rate the leader's instruction on nine separate dimensions (engaging, funny, appropriate, unhumourous, entertaining, succinct, clear, memorable, humorous; Bitterly et al., 2017). We used the unhumorous item (see Study 1) to measure absence of humour in leadership. ...
... Absence of humour in leadership was assessed as it was in the two previous studies: with one adaptation of the nine-item scale from Bitterly et al. (2017). We asked participants to rate the leader's instruction on 10 separate dimensions (adding unfunny). ...
Article
A leader’s humour can be detrimental to communication effectiveness, particularly in emergency situations. Using reversal theory, we argue that the absence of humour in leadership leads to more effective communication in frontline practice because it enhances communication clarity. Combining data from a vignette study (N = 127) and two field studies (N = 134 and N = 165) among firefighters working at the frontline, the results confirm our expectations. As frontline interventions call for a serious mindset, the absence of humour in a leader increased perceived leader frontline communication effectiveness due to higher clarity in frontline communication. Overall, the findings demonstrate the critical role of leaders not displaying humour in emergency settings, and they highlight the influence of contextual factors on determining whether the use of humour is beneficial or risky in communication.
... Eisenhower was a leader of military and political arenas, yet his quote is recognized in both the popular and academic literature (Bacharach, 2013). From a leadership perspective, appropriate humor use may help leaders to project confidence and competence (RISE, 2016;Bitterly et al., 2017). A Robert Half (2017) survey found that 84% of executives believe that people with a good sense of humor do a better job. ...
... A majority of the quantitative studies adopted a cross-sectional approach, and three studies included experiential elements. The experiential interventions included cultural priming (Yue et al., 2016), temporary accessibility of participants' moral identities (Yam et al., 2019), and manipulations of humor success or failure (Bitterly et al., 2017). ...
... • Improved employee core self-evaluation and trust in leaders (Karakowsky et al., 2020;Neves and Karagonlar, 2020). • Reduced social and power distance and status disparities (Bitterly et al., 2017). • Improved employee psychological capital and wellbeing (Kim et al., 2016;Wijewardena et al., 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
Humor studies are increasingly prevalent in workplace and leadership domains, it has shown significant development in the last 40 years. The multifaceted nature of humor means varied definitions and diverse measurement approaches have been approved. As a result, research methodologies and findings are not easily clarified, and have not been synthesized. The aim of this scoping review was to review the existing body of literature relevant to humor in workplace leadership to identify key research areas, methodologies used, guiding theoretical frameworks, and gaps that are persisting over the last 40 years. Using qualitative review methods, four key themes in the research emerged relating to: (1) humor styles and outcomes; (2) humor as communication and discursive resource; (3) variables in the humor and leadership relationship; and (4) cultural context. This review demonstrates significant research progress on the topic of humor in workplace leadership. Research progress and gaps are discussed based on five key questions. Future research directions are outlined and discussed.
... To examine leaders' real interactions with their followers, I conducted an experimental recall task (adapted from Bitterly et al., 2017). Leaders were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 conditions to recall an act of follower sarcasm (i.e., "a story or a joke that one of your followers told you that you thought was funny, cheeky, and/or sarcastic") or a follower greeting (i.e., "a greeting that one of your followers told you that you thought was nice, warm, and/or friendly"). ...
... And in doing so, this research shows how situational factors such as follower sarcasm shape the effect moral identity has on leaders' self-interested behaviors, adding to research showing how other factors (e.g., power) interact with moral identity to affect leader behavior (Aquino et al., 2009;DeCelles et al., 2012;Shao, Aquino, & Freeman, 2008). On a more general level, the bulk of existing humor research has studied the effects of humor on relationships (e.g., Cooper et al., 2018), (team) communication or performance (Lehmann-Willenbrock & Allen, 2014), as well as attitudes and perceptions (e.g., Bitterly et al., 2017;Bitterly & Schweitzer, 2019;Evans et al., 2019). Although sarcasm has also been shown to increase creative behavior of the humor user and the recipient (Huang et al., 2015), and leader humor has been shown to affect follower deviant behavior (Yam et al., 2018), to my knowledge, research has not yet demonstrated how humor or sarcasm affects financial behavior. ...
... First, communicating up the hierarchy is risky (see Morrison, 2014, for a review). Using humor at work-particularly sarcasm-can also be risky (Bitterly et al., 2017;Evans et al., 2019;Gloor et al., 2021;Romeo & Cruthirds, 2006). However, employees may face fewer personal consequences if communicating up the hierarchy with humor. ...
Article
Leaders often engage in costly, self-interested behaviors when they have the power and discretion to do so. Because followers are well-positioned to reduce these behaviors, I test how a specific follower communication—sarcasm expression—affects a particularly costly behavior: leader overpay. In three behavioral experiments and a field study (Ns = 240-526), I test the effect of follower sarcasm on leaders’ self-pay. I also test a moderator—leader moral identity—because leaders with low moral identity are more likely to overpay themselves and are more open to social norm violations (including follower sarcasm), as well as a mechanism—leader accountability—because I propose that follower sarcasm decreases leaders’ overpay by increasing leaders’ perceived accountability. As expected, follower sarcasm reduced leader overpay (vs. the control/no humor and vs. non-sarcastic humor), especially for leaders with weak moral identity. Study 3 replicated these results while showing explicit evidence of the accountability mechanism. Study 4 further supported these ideas with correlational data from real leaders recalling a more (vs. less) sarcastic follower, but only when the sarcasm was publicly (vs. privately) enacted. While talk is cheap, these results show that follower sarcasm can also be valuable, because it reduces leaders’ overpay by increasing accountability.
... Our primary aim is to examine if female applicants' use of positive, affiliative humor can reduce evaluators' interpersonal anxiety toward them. However, we also acknowledge that even this type of humor could be risky for male applicants if it triggers thoughts of some of the very behaviors about which post-#MeToo managers are concerned: sexual, aggressive, or inappropriate jokes (Berdahl & Aquino, 2009;Bitterly et al., 2017;Ford, 2000;Thomas et al., 2020). Thus, we test for the possibility that positive, affiliative applicant humor may be risky-or risqué as alluded to in our title-for male applicants, particularly when sexual harassment concerns are salient. ...
... We test these effects in a hiring context because interactional uncertainty is higher in situations where there is limited familiarity between interaction partners (e.g., employment interviews; Gudykunst, 1995). Furthermore, applicant humor has a strong influence on selection outcomes (Bitterly et al., 2017;Cooper, 2005). In the following section, we outline our theory and hypotheses and then provide an overview and specific details of our three experimental studies conducted with experienced hiring managers. ...
... We define humor as a social communication behavior, namely, an event shared by an agent with a target that is both intended to be amusing and perceived by the target as an intentional act (Cooper, 2005). When interacting with a new person, using humor appropriately (e.g., a pun) can signal a variety of positive attributes such as competence, warmth, and status (Bitterly et al., 2017;Bitterly & Schweitzer, 2019. This social signaling (i.e., communicating private information that was previously unknown; Connelly et al., 2011;Spence, 1973) is particularly important when interacting with someone for the first time, as interaction partners are automatically and evolutionarily wired to discern a person's intentions (i.e., to help or to harm) and capabilities (i.e., competence to carry out one's intentions; Fiske et al., 2002). ...
Article
Interpersonal anxiety (i.e., the fear of negative consequences from interacting with someone) may be more prominent in post-#MeToo organizations when interacting with someone of a different gender. Initial exchanges may particularly trigger this anxiety, obfuscating key organizational decisions such as hiring. Given humor’s positive, intrapersonal stress-reduction effects, we propose that humor also reduces interpersonal anxiety. In three mixed methods experiments with hiring managers, we examined the effects of applicant and evaluator gender (i.e., same-/mixed-gender dyad), positive applicant humor (i.e., a pun), and context (i.e., gender salience) in job interviews. Results showed that mixed-gender (vs. same-gender) interactions elicited more interpersonal anxiety, particularly when gender was more salient; mixed-gender interactions also predicted downstream attitudinal outcomes (e.g., social attraction and willingness to hire) and hiring decisions (e.g., selection and rejection) via interpersonal anxiety. Although humor reduced interpersonal anxiety and its consequences for female applicants, the opposite was true for male applicants when gender was salient, because it signaled some of the same expectations that initially triggered the interpersonal anxiety: the potential for harmful sexual behavior. In sum, we integrated diversity and humor theories to examine interpersonal anxiety in same- and mixed-gender interactions, then tested the extent to which humor relieved it.
... In an overview of research looking at humor in social interactions, humor was found to increase perceptions of social competence, intimacy, and trust (Hampes, 2010). Other research has found the use of humor to increase perceptions of confidence and competence, which in turn is found to increase perceptions of social status (Bitterly et al., 2017). Humor is linked to higher cognitive and emotional intelligence (Greengross & Miller, 2011;Willinger et al., 2017) as well as social likeability, with individuals who use humor regularly in social interactions reporting less loneliness and better social networks (Wanzer et al., 1996). ...
... The use of humor in social situations has been found to increase perceptions of competence, confidence (Bitterly et al., 2017), and likeability (Wanzer et al., 1996). In clinical contexts, humor has been found to decrease the symptoms of psychological distress, including anxiety (Cai et al., 2014;Dean & Major, 2008;Lynch, 2002). ...
... The findings of the study further suggest that humor has a positive impact on perceived robot personality. This supports previous research showing that the use of humor by a social robot increased user ratings of the robot's expression of personality (Niculescu et al., 2013), and positive personality traits (Bitterly et al., 2017;Hampes, 2010). Our results extend these findings to a medical context and suggest that the effects of humor apply mostly to sociable aspects of a robot's personality, as indexed by the sociable factor of the personality scale. ...
... Ám a humorhasználat nem minden esetben jár együtt pozitív hatással. A humor sikeres vagy sikertelen használata során két szempontot szokás figyelembe venni: egyrészt a humort használó személyhez milyen magabiztosságot, másrészt milyen kompetenciaszintet társít a környezete (confidence & competence; Bitterly et al. 2017). A sikertelen használat (például nem a szituációhoz illő viccek mesélése) azzal jár, hogy az adott személlyel kapcsolatban alacsony kompetenciát, ugyanakkor magas magabiztosságot érzékelnek a befogadók: mivel ha valaki elég bátor, hogy elmondjon egy viccet -akár sikeresen, akár nem -, magabiztosnak fogják őt tartani. ...
... Ahogy a korábbiakban már szó volt róla, a nem megfelelő humor használata ugyan magabiztosságot jelez, ám emiatt a személyhez alacsonyabb kompetenciát társítanak (Bitterly et al. 2017). Rossz humorhasználatnak számít a szexista, rasszista, bugyuta viccek mesélése (amelyek kifejezetten romboló hatással lehetnek a társas, különösen a munkahelyi kapcsolatokra), a nem vicces vicc, illetve a vicceskedés túlzásba vitele. ...
Chapter
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Humor a munkában: valóban oximoron? John Morreall filozófus nevéhez kapcsolódik az a megállapítás, miszerint a munkahelyi humor oximoronnak számít ("humor in work is an oxymoron", 1991: 359). Valóban nem lehet, nem érdemes professzionális szituációkban élni a humor lehetőségével? Nem lesz meglepetés, hogy az itt összegzett empirikus kutatások mind arra utalnak, hogy a jól alkalmazott humor a munkában is hasznos, előremutató, hatékonyságnövelő lehet. E tanulmány azt a kérdéskört járja körül a desktopkutatás módszertanával, hogy a jelenleg érvényes menedzsment-szakirodalom mit állít, esetleg mit tanácsol a humor munkahelyi szituációkban történő használatáról, a humor hogyan járul hozzá az egészséges munka-helyi légkör, továbbá a dolgozói elégedettség megteremtéséhez és megtartásához, külön kitérve az ajánlott és a kerülendő humorstílusokra. Öt szempont szerint összegzem a vonatkozó tanulmányokat: 1. hogyan hat a (vezetői) humor a munkahelyi teljesítményre és a munkahelyi légkörre, hangulatra; 2. miképpen befolyásolja a vezető humorhaszná-lata a státuszát (ezen belül kiemelten a női vezetőkét); 3. hogyan járul hozzá a vezetői kontrollhoz a humor; 4. létezik-e nem jó humor; 5. zárásképpen pedig azt vizsgálom, milyen szerepet tölt be a humor a szervezeti kommunikációban.
... First, although the literature has demonstrated that the use of humor can be risky, particularly for women (Evans et al., 2019), and can negatively impact perceptions of status as an outcome variable (e.g. Bitterly et al., 2017), the current research extends that work to show that formal status (as an independent variable) can mitigate and in some cases reverse that effect. Indeed, whereas Bitterly et al. (2017) found that successful humor influenced perceptions of the humorist through its impact on perceived competence, the current study extends that research by demonstrating that formal status, arguably a signal of competence, influences the way in which the humor itself is perceived. ...
... Bitterly et al., 2017), the current research extends that work to show that formal status (as an independent variable) can mitigate and in some cases reverse that effect. Indeed, whereas Bitterly et al. (2017) found that successful humor influenced perceptions of the humorist through its impact on perceived competence, the current study extends that research by demonstrating that formal status, arguably a signal of competence, influences the way in which the humor itself is perceived. In addition, the current research contributes to the controversial literature on a female leadership advantage (Decker and Rotondo, 2001;Rosette and Tost, 2010) by identifying conditions under which such an advantage might be observed. ...
Article
Purpose Humor can be a useful tool in the workplace, but it remains unclear whether humor used by men versus women is perceived similarly due to social role expectations. This paper explored whether female humorists have less social latitude in their use of aggressive and affiliative humor in the workplace. This paper also examined how formal organizational status and the target's gender can impact audience perceptions. Design/methodology/approach Two scenario-based studies were conducted where participants rated the foolishness of the humorist. For Study 1, participants responded to a scenario with an aggressive, humorous comment. For Study 2, participants responded to a scenario with an affiliative, humorous comment. Findings Results suggested that high-status female humorists who used aggressive humor with low-status women were viewed as less foolish than low-status female humorists who used aggressive humor with low-status women. Conversely, status did not impact perceptions of male humorists who used aggressive humor with low-status women. Results also indicated that high-status women who used affiliative humor were viewed as less foolish when their humor was directed toward low-status men versus low-status women. Conversely, no differences existed for high-status men who used affiliative humor with low-status men and women. Practical implications Narrower social role expectations for women suggest that interpersonal humor can be a riskier strategy for women. Originality/value This study suggests that women have less social latitude in their use of humor at work, and that organizational status and target gender influence perceptions of female humorists.
... On the downside, aggressive humor can also make people seem unpleasant or disruptive (Cann et al., 2016) and less sincere (Derks and Berkowitz, 1989), probably because of the relationship between this style and low agreeableness (Mendiburo-Seguel et al., 2015) and low social skills (Yip and Martin, 2006). For example, Bitterly et al. (2017) observed in a series of experiments that in cases where humor was unsuccessful (inappropriate jokes), perceived status and competence are lower. Similarly, Baumgartner et al. (2015) found that compared to a no-humor control condition, watching a video of a politician engaging in other-disparaging humor led to lower evaluations and a lower likelihood of voting for him. ...
Article
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Social media has increased its popularity among politicians. If they wish to succeed in the political arena, politicians need to present themselves to citizens as attractive individuals through these platforms. This study examined how politicians present themselves using humor on Twitter. We analyzed tweets (n=6,443) from 27 politicians to determine their use of different types of humor and its relationship with age, gender, or political position. We also present changes in humor use in relation to the publication of a political survey in which politicians who were part of this study were evaluated. Results showed politicians’ use of humor is relatively low in frequency and primarily aggressive. Politicians who are male, younger, and in the opposition tend to use more aggressive humor. We discuss the results considering the role of aggressive humor in political messages. Based on the analyses of tweets and the publication of the survey, we propose as a hypothesis for future studies that politicians’ use of humor on Twitter could be affected by the publication of these kinds of surveys.
... Therefore effects on PWB may differ between different actors in humor instances, depending on their role or position in the humor exchange. Bitterly et al. (2017) argue that humor is risky because unsuccessful humor can harm a persons' status at work whereas successful humor can imply both confidence and competence which may increase a joke teller's status. They note the important role of humor in shaping hierarchy and interpersonal relations within groups. ...
Article
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Humor is contextual, ambiguous, and varies within cultures but is widely associated with positive outcomes such as well-being and happiness. While humor is universal and enhances interpersonal relationships which can benefit psychological well-being, we argue that humor can also be diminish psychological well-being in Confucian-based, South Korean workplaces. Our research questions asks: how do hierarchical workplace relationships influence shared humor and positive well-being in Korean workplace contexts? Our contextual, ethnographic research includes in-depth field observations and semi structured interviews in three Korean organizations. Traditional Confucian-based cultures value face-saving, trust, and harmony while emphasizing formality and hierarchy. Korean honorifics maintain harmony, hierarchy, and politeness which creates benefits for group processes and influences the sharing of humor. Humor is enacted in accordance with workers' hierarchical status which has a significant impact upon the types of humor shared and the responses available to subordinate employees. Investigating these dimensions in Korean workplaces we argue that honorifics and hierarchy influence humor interactions in complex ways that have implications for psychological well-being.
... For example, a recent meta-analysis finds that humor frequently has a significant positive effect on attitude toward the advertisement, attitude toward the brand, purchase intentions, positive affect, and attention (Eisend 2009). Research also suggests that the successful use of humor signals confidence and competence, which in turn increases the joke teller's status (Bitterly, Brooks, and Schweitzer 2017) and results in more positive perceptions regarding the appropriateness of the advertising tactic (Koenigstorfer and Uhrich 2017). ...
Article
The phenomenon of brands making sarcastic and sometimes rude comments regarding their competitors via social media is a relatively novel and unexplored behavior, and research in this area is scarce. How consumers perceive the use of humor in brand-to-brand dialogue may have meaningful managerial implications for companies and important theoretical implications for existing theory. Thus, to understand the dyadic relationship between two brands who engage with each other on social media, we explore two different types of humorous comments (low aggression and high aggression) and how the type of humor employed affects consumers’ perceptions of both the brand initiating the dialogue and the brand that responds. Interestingly, we find that the safest strategy for brands that elect to interact with other brands on social media is to refrain from either type of humor, thus avoiding perceptions of manipulative intent. However, for brands that elect to respond to other brands, the type of humor employed can vary based on the tone of the initiating brand’s comment.
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the distinct effects of aggressive and constructive humor on perceptions of Machiavellianism, relationship quality and willingness-to-switch (WTS). Design/methodology/approach The empirical analysis includes a first replication study with 138 business-to-business buyers and a second study with 175 business-to-business buyers that aims to test the theoretical model. The Process macro is used to test the study’s hypotheses. Findings Results indicate that aggressive and constructive humor types have distinct effects on relationship quality and subsequent buyers’ WTS. Specifically, and contrary to constructive humor, aggressive humor from sellers increases buyers’ perceptions of Machiavellianism, which reveals detrimental to relationship quality and subsequently increases buyers’ WTS. Research limitations/implications Although the results about the effects of humor on relationship quality were obtained from actual buyers and consistent across the two studies, they were obtained from two cross-sectional designs, which limits the causality of the effects being observed. Practical implications Sellers may benefit from getting deep understanding of how usage humor may impact their relationship with buyers. In particular, this research makes clear for sellers that as long as the type of humor that they use when dealing with a buyer is constructive, no negative outcome might emerge. However, if the humor is aggressive, then the stereotype of Machiavellianism might emerge, leading to lower relationship quality and an increase in WTS from the buyer. Originality/value While research on humor as a communication technique for sellers has increased lately, to the best of the authors’ knowledge this research is the first to examine the effects of the distinct types of aggressive and constructive humor and to provide empirical evidence for the different effects of these two types of humor. This research also contributes to the literature on stereotypes associated with sellers, by presenting insights into how the negative stereotype of Machiavellianism is prompted by the use of aggressive humor.
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Bere ingurunean aldaketak gertatzen direnean eta erronka berriei aurre egin behar dienean, jokaera berri batzuk eskatzen zaizkio organismoari, baina jokaera horiek sarritan zailak izaten dira eta energia asko eskatzen dute. Ingurunean gertatzen diren aldaketak ustekabekoak eta kontrolagaitzak direnean, informazio konplexua azkar prozesatzea eskatzen duten erronkei aurre egin behar die subjektuak; erantzun egokia azkar eman beharrean gertatzen da, baina ez du erantzun bizkor horrek eskatzen duen baliabiderik.
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This study assessed how informal caregivers for people with dementia humorously communicate about their caregiving tasks and experiences. Support groups for informal caregivers for people with dementia were observed, and instances of humor were thematically analyzed. Informal caregivers used humor at specific moments, including when sharing struggles and exchanging advice, and they used various types of humor, including affiliative, self-defeating, aggressive, supportive, and contestive humor. Informal caregivers’ humor use may operate as an effective coping technique and supportive strategy of reinforcement and encouragement, but humor may also be harmful or detrimental to supportive interactions. These findings offer helpful insights into informal caregivers’ communication patterns and reveal humor’s potential to bring individuals relationally closer together, even over difficult topics such as dementia.
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Purpose This paper aims to draw upon extant theory and research to delineate the fundamental factors that impact how women evaluate disparaging humor directed at them. The conceptual framework presented outlines the most fundamental organizational-, interpersonal- and individual-level factors that influence the accuracy of such evaluation. Design/methodology/approach This is a conceptual paper that offers both a review of extant humor and gender research and theory and the presentation of a theoretical model that classifies sources of influence on evaluations of sexist humor from the perspective of the target. Findings Organization-, interpersonal- and individual-level factors are identified as sources of influence on women’s perception and evaluation of sexist humor leveled at them. This classification identifies factors including organizational power dynamics, egalitarian norms, interpersonal trust, target self-esteem and feminist identity. Research limitations/implications This paper offers a conceptual framework to guide future studies in more systematically examining the sources of influence on female targets’ capacity to recognize when they are the “punchline” of sexist humor. Practical implications The conceptual model developed in this paper offers important implications for managers and leaders in organizations in assisting targets to recognize instances of sexist humor directed at them. The aim is to arm potential victims with the knowledge necessary to foster awareness of their treatment in the workplace and to improve the accuracy of evaluation of workplace attitudes that may often nurture a sense of approval or apathy regarding displays of sexist humor. Originality/value This paper presents a novel classification of sources of influence on female targets’ evaluation of sexist humor in the workplace.
Chapter
The chapter provides an updated reappraisal of Ravid & Tolchinsky’s (2002) framework modeling linguistic literacy. The chapter suggests a re-elaboration of the model’s main constructs – rhetorical flexibility as an outcome of developing literacy, literacy as a domain of knowledge, and the developmental and representational status of literacy knowledge – in the light of the concerns that have impacted the domain of literacy during the last 20 years. The chapter concludes that from varied perspectives – theoretical, research-based, pedagogical, and sociopolitical – developing literacy en route to critical rhetorical flexibility is as timely as it was 20 years ago.KeywordsDeveloping literacyRhetorical flexibilityLinguistic variationPrinted and digital mediumEnabling factors
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The advent of social media has dramatically changed the way consumers communicate with others. How to communicate appropriately with mass audiences on social media has become an urgent topic in crisis communication. This article investigates the use of humor in crisis communication within a social media context. Across three studies using multisource data, the authors find that humorous responses to negative publicity can lead to more favorable consumer responses than nonhumorous responses do. This effect is moderated by the type (defensible vs. not defensible) of negative event. These findings have important implications both theoretically and managerially.
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A lot of popular comedians are known for their transgressive humor towards social groups, but disparagement humor is not just restricted to stages or media performances. We encounter it everywhere or perhaps use it ourselves. In this paper, we were interested in how people react to disparaging jokes (i.e., homophobic jokes) across different relational settings. Adapting Fiske´s relational models theory, we examined how status differences in relationships affect the perception of and cognition about socially disparaging jokes. In Study 1 (N = 77), we piloted seven potentially disparaging jokes about gay men in relation to how they are perceived. In Study 2 (N = 288), using one joke from Study 1, we constructed vignettes manipulating the sexual orientation of the source of the joke in the dyad (i.e., heterosexual, gay, both heterosexual) and their status differences across relational models (i.e., high, equal, and low status). We found that the joke was perceived to be less funny, more offensive, and more morally wrong, and to contain more harm intent if it came from a heterosexual person rather than a gay person. Study 3 (N = 197) used concrete status differences in relationships in terms of existing intergroup dimensions. Results showed that the joke was perceived as more offensive, less acceptable and more morally wrong when it came from a high authority source (e.g., professor rather than a student). Overall, these findings bring the first evidence to link disparagement humor with relational models and show the importance status differences in the perception of disparagement humor.
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Researchers have displayed considerable interest in how and when team cognitive diversity leads to improved or impaired team innovation. When addressing this issue, scholars have adopted the information/decision making and social categorization theoretical perspectives. In contrast, we draw on conservation of resources (COR) theory when examining the cognitive diversity and team innovation relationship. We argue that in a team environment, cognitive diversity may result in the threat of losing valuable resources. This threat, in turn, encourages team members to engage in resource replenishment through the use of different humor styles (i.e., affiliative, self-enhancing, aggressive, self-defeating). We argue that, with such resource replenishment, four team-level humor styles emerge and mediate the relationship between cognitive diversity and team innovation. In addition, we expect team emotional intelligence to moderate the relationships between cognitive diversity and team humor styles. Our model has important theoretical implications for team diversity, humor, emotional intelligence, and innovation research. Plain language summary: Team cognitive diversity can be defined as the extent to which team members differ in their ideas, perspectives, or values. Cognitive diversity is important for teams to cultivate innovation although it may also result in relationship conflicts and the formation of subgroups in a team. Our paper views cognitive diversity as a signal that drives team members to use humor to cope with diversity. This may then result in different humor styles (i.e., affiliative, self-enhancing, aggressive, self-defeating) that characterize the way the team uses humor. For instance, while working in a cognitively diverse team, team members might make a joke about work that the whole team laughs together (i.e., affiliative humor). However, some members might use sarcasm to insult others who are different from the group norms (i.e., aggressive humor). We argue that the team humor styles will influence team innovation, which in turn will link cognitive diversity with team innovation. Moreover, we suggest that team emotional intelligence will influence the extent to which the four team humor styles link cognitive diversity and team innovation.
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This study examines the influence of affiliative and aggressive humor climate levels and variability of humor climates on customer purchase, and the mediating effect of customer perceptions of service quality on such relationships. Sixty-seven store managers assessed 615 employees’ use of humor, while 3533 customers were surveyed to assess the quality of service received and their purchase behavior. Results show that a high affiliative humor climate was associated with a decrease in customer perceptions of service quality when variability in this humor usage was low in stores. Furthermore, high usage of aggressive humor was associated with a decrease in customer purchase.
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Research has recently established the notion that humor in leadership contributes to the development of a positive professional relationship between leaders and followers. This relationship has been supposed to be the core mechanism via which humor in leadership unfolds its effects on work attitudes and behaviors. However, research has neglected the option that humor used by leaders might fail to amuse their followers. In this study, we investigate the role of failed humor for the relationship between leader and follower. More concretely, we develop a new scale for measuring failed humor in leadership and demonstrate its factorial and criterion-related validity. Using an automated item selection algorithm, we optimized the newly developed scale and derived a well-fitting six-item scale out of a pool of 12 items. In a study based on a sample of 385 employees, we were able to show that our newly developed scale is factorially valid. Moreover, we showed a negative correlation between failed humor and leader-member exchange. Furthermore, we showed incremental validity of failed humor in that failed humor predicted variance in leader-member exchange beyond well-established humor constructs such as affiliative and aggressive humor. Our study contributes to the development of the field of humor in leadership and opens up new options for further inquiry. Moreover, our study demonstrates the use of automated item selection algorithms in the applied field.
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We conducted a cross-cultural experiment on a sample of 230 participants, to examine how listening to an audio recording of a male telling a joke followed by either laughter (humorous condition) or an unimpressed murmur (non-humorous condition) affected participant ratings of that male’s social status, dominance, prestige and attractiveness. The experiment followed a between-subjects design. The sample was cross-cultural to explore possible cultural variation and compared effects among Western (UK & USA) ( n = 119, 74 females) and Turkish ( n = 111, 87 females) participants. We measured participants’ ratings of dominance/prestige and attractiveness, based on validated and previously used scales. In the humorous condition, the male was rated as having significantly higher social status and prestige but not dominance. He was also rated as more attractive by female participants from the UK & USA; this effect was mediated by prestige. Conversely, attractiveness ratings by female Turkish participants did not differ across conditions. The effect among the former was found to have been mediated via prestige. We interpret these findings as suggesting that humor production represents a means of gaining status but also highlighting that its recognized role in attractiveness varies cross-culturally. Although the present endeavor represents a pilot study, we believe that our findings raise new questions regarding the interrelationships of humor production, status, and attractiveness, and their evolutionary background.
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Humor can be a powerful tool for increasing one’s status in a group and influencing others. Given that past research has indicated that the use of humor by a woman might harm her potential of advancing in the workplace, we examine the joint effect of humor style and gender on the likelihood of being perceived as a leader. Using a within-subjects vignette experiment, we collected data from 148 participants, with 73% being female, and an average age of 33.2 years old (SD = 9.8). We found that people using affiliative humor had a higher perceived chance of emerging as leaders compared to those using aggressive humor and gender itself did not have a significant effect on leadership emergence. Contrary to our expectations, the affiliative-aggressive humor discrepancy in leadership emergence was higher for men rather than women. These results are aligned with expectancy violation hypothesis pointing to a distinctiveness effect of incongruent role behaviors such that men tend to receive more credit for affiliative humor, while women tend to be penalized less for using aggressive humor in groups. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Article
Dominant actors are neither liked nor respected, yet they are reliably deferred to. Extant explanations of why dominant actors are deferred to focus on deferrers' first-order judgments (i.e., the deferrers' own private assessment of the dominant actor). The present research extends these accounts by considering the role of second-order judgments (i.e., an individual's perception of what others think about the dominant actor) in decisions to defer to dominant actors. While individuals themselves often have little respect for dominant actors, we hypothesized that (1) they think others respect dominant actors more than they do themselves, and (2) these second-order respect judgments are associated with their decision to defer dominant actors above and beyond their own first-order respect judgments. The results of four studies provide support for these hypotheses: across a variety of contexts, we found evidence that individuals think others respect dominant actors more than they themselves do (Studies 1–3), and perceptions of others' respect for dominant actors is associated with individuals' own decisions to defer to them, above and beyond first-order respect (Studies 3–4). Results highlight the importance of considering second-order judgments in order to fully understand why dominant actors achieve high social rank in groups and organizations.
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Marketing managers increasingly monitor their company's online reputation and respond to online consumer reviews on various digital platforms. The current literature provides valuable insights into effectively initiating management response (MR) to negative reviews. However, research on how companies should respond to positive reviews is limited, despite their prevalence in MR practice. In this study, we postulate that using humor in MR for positive reviews can be an effective response strategy to enhance positive attitudinal and behavioral responses. Drawing on parasocial interaction theory, we conducted a field investigation and two experimental studies to demonstrate that humorous ( vs. humorless) MRs to positive reviews fostered perceived parasocial interaction between prospective consumers and brands, which enhanced brand attitude and purchase intention. Furthermore, the proposed effects were stronger for consumers with communal norms than for those with exchange norms. This research advances the emerging literature on MR to consumer reviews of different valences and suggests important guidelines for effective MRs.
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Although research suggests that leader humor shapes followers’ perceptions of their leaders’ status, questions remain as to whether and how leader humor can shape followers’ own acquisition of status at work. Drawing from the approach‐avoidance framework, we provide an important extension to the leader humor literature by developing a serial mediation model that explains how and why two styles of leader humor – aggressive humor and affiliative humor – differentially impact followers’ ability to garner and wield social influence in the work environment. We theorize that leader aggressive humor, which constitutes unconstrained execution of power that is invasive and hostile in nature, produces a status‐suppressing effect by activating followers’ avoidance system, whereas leader affiliative humor, which constitutes relational connection with restrained superiority, produces a status‐enabling effect by activating followers’ approach system. We further propose that leader aggressive (affiliative) humor has a negative (positive) indirect effect on followers’ constructive voice and work engagement via their avoidance (approach) orientation and workplace status. We find consistent support for our hypothesized predictions across two survey studies. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of this study.
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Over the past two decades, scholars of management, finance, accounting, economics, and entrepreneurship have studied the concept and implications of executive confidence in diverse settings. Despite sustained scholarly attention, numerous definitions, interpretations, and operationalizations of executive confidence present a problem for understanding past research and informing future progress. Equally problematic is that past research remains scattered across multiple disciplines, lacking a cohesive and comprehensive integration. Based on an in-depth review of 118 executive confidence studies and 268 studies in the wider confidence literature, we marshal the literature into four overarching themes for an encompassing understanding: (i) conceptualization of executive confidence, (ii) governance mechanisms and pathways of influence, (iii) implications and outcomes, and (iv) origins and antecedents. We leverage the insights of our review to discuss a richer conceptualization of executive confidence and chart an agenda for future research across each of the four themes of our review.
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Our experiment showed a scenario where a White politician used a racist dog whistle (DW) when referring to his Black opponent. We used pilot data to determine DW statements and then tested whether different DWs (joke or regular) would affect perceptions of candidates based on participants’ levels of subtle and explicit racism compared to a comment without racial undertones. Our results indicated that while neither DW affected perceptions of the Black candidate based on participants’ levels of subtle racism, when a regular DW was used, subtle racism was positively associated with more positive perceptions of the White candidate. Our findings can broadly be explained within the context of modern racism and the suppression justification model of prejudice. The presence of a DW served as a prime, allowing those who have subtle anti-Black prejudice to express it through more positive personal perceptions of the White candidate. Without opportunities to justify the expression of their subtle prejudice (i.e. have a non-prejudice reason to dislike the candidate), the participants’ did not report more negative perceptions of the Black candidate. However, there was a “backlash” and participants were less likely to consider voting for the White candidate, particularly when he used a joke DW.
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Social status is highly consequential in organizations but remains elusive for many professional women. Status characteristics theory argues that women are particularly status disadvantaged in masculine organizational cultures. These types of cultures valorize traits and abilities stereotypically associated with men, making it difficult for women in these settings to be seen as skilled and gain status. In the present study, we build and test novel theory explaining when and why masculine organizational cultures create the conditions for some women—those willing and able to skillfully navigate the espoused norms—to disproportionately gain status. We introduce and define the construct of a sexist culture of joviality, a type of masculine organizational culture representing the intersection of sexism and joviality that emerged inductively from our initial qualitative data. A sexist culture of joviality is characterized by norms promoting frequent sexist joking and teasing, along with underlying values and assumptions that support these sexist jovial behaviors. In a longitudinal mixed-methods field study, we demonstrate that participation in a sexist culture of joviality via engagement in sexist jovial norms is positively related to status for women but negatively related to status for men. In a follow-up experiment, we replicate this effect and demonstrate that differential perceptions of social skill mediate this interaction. Our findings illuminate the subtle ways sexism is perpetuated in organizations despite changing societal norms, underscoring the importance of disrupting these dynamics and revealing insights into how to do so.
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The meaning of success in conversation depends on people’s goals. Often, individuals pursue multiple goals simultaneously, such as establishing shared understanding, making a favorable impression, and persuading a conversation partner. In this article, we introduce a novel theoretical framework, the Conversational Circumplex, to classify conversational motives along two key dimensions: 1) Informational: the extent to which a speaker’s motive focuses on giving and/or receiving accurate information and 2) Relational: the extent to which a speaker’s motive focuses on building the relationship. We use the conversational circumplex to underscore the multiplicity of conversational goals that people hold, and highlight the potential for individuals to have conflicting conversational goals (both intrapersonally and interpersonally) that make successful conversation a difficult challenge.
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Although humor significantly shapes interpersonal perception and behavior, it historically has been surprisingly absent from much of the psychology literature. However, there have been recent advances in humor research which have provided us with two key insights. First, humor is intricately linked with power. Individuals who use humor well can elevate, maintain, and solidify their position in the social hierarchy. Second, attempting to use humor is risky. Individuals whose humor attempts are perceived as offensive and inappropriate can lose status and their ability to influence others effectively. This review provides theoretical and practical insights on how humor shapes the social hierarchy, while outlining important areas for future research.
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Prior research has found an association between pride experiences and social rank outcomes. However, the causal direction of this relationship remains unclear. The current research used a longitudinal design ( N = 1,653) to investigate whether pride experiences are likely to be a cause, consequence, or both, of social rank outcomes, by tracking changes in individuals’ pride and social rank over time. Prior research also has uncovered distinct correlational relationships between the two facets of pride, authentic and hubristic, and two forms of social rank, prestige and dominance, respectively. We therefore separately examined longitudinal relationships between each pride facet and each form of social rank. Results reveal distinct bidirectional relationships between authentic pride and prestige and hubristic pride and dominance, suggesting that specific kinds of pride experiences and specific forms of social rank are both an antecedent and a consequence of one another.
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Inferring individuals’ social rank—their position within a hierarchy—is central to many interactions. But, how do observers assess actors’ social rank? The current article reviews three broad sources of social-rank cues: physical characteristics, behaviors, and possessions. First, observers infer an actor’s social rank from ancestral stereotypes tethered to physical characteristics. Second, observers ascribe social rank to an actor from behaviors that range from nonverbal communication to explicit acts. Finally, observers assume an actor’s social rank from others’ possessions. The present review emphasizes recent developments in these areas and poses question for future research.
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Research on the effectiveness of negative campaigning offers mixed results. Negative messages can sometimes work to depress candidate evaluations, but they can also backfire against the attacker. In this article, we examine how humor can help mitigate the unintended effects of negative campaigning using data from three experimental studies in the United States and the Netherlands. Our results show that (1) political attacks combined with “other-deprecatory humor” (i.e., jokes against the opponents) are less likely to backfire against the attacker and can even increase positive evaluations of this latter—especially when the attack is perceived as amusing. At the same time and contrary to what we expected, (2) humor does not blunt the attack: humorous attacks are not less effective against the target than serious attacks. All in all, these results suggest that humor can be a good strategy for political attacks: jokes reduce harmful backlash effects against the attacker, and humoros attacks remain just as effective as humorless ones. When in doubt, be funny. All data and materials are openly available for replication.
Article
This thesis seeks to improve the classification of laughter by uncovering its purpose in communication, identifiability, and acoustic features. Reviewing the existing literature, this paper identifies three main types of laughter: affiliative, de-escalative, and power. Consulting with research assistants, this paper then classifies 113 instances of laughter from 62 Congressional Committee meetings published on C-SPAN. The interrater classification agreement suggests individuals can identify and categorize the different types of laughter with context. Additionally, 14 participants were recruited to complete exercises designed to elicit archetypes of the three laughter categories. These study recordings, which included 124 laughter bouts, were analyzed for acoustic features (pitch (Hz), energy (dB), duration, and proportion of voiced laughter vs. silence). The audio analysis indicates acoustic features of laughter are not overall significantly different amongst the three categories and therefore suggests social context, including proximal language and visual cues, predominantly explains the identifiability of the laughter types.
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People of all genders regularly pursue both personal and professional objectives. To the latter, research has documented substantial barriers for women, especially when they make mistakes. As articulated by role congruity theory, their stereotypically communal nature appears at odds with the agentic objectives frequently seen as inherent to the workplace. To the former, though, how are women (versus men) evaluated in pursuit of communal objectives? We propose that observers are more likely to see men (versus women) as less successful after mistakes in the interpersonal realm. Nine preregistered experiments (N = 5400) test this proposition by targeting, specifically, the use of humor. They provide evidence for a process model by which women (versus men) who falter are still seen as more attentive, causing their mistakes to seem less substantial and bolstering downstream evaluations of them. Implications for gender, humor, and mistakes are discussed.
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Although the consequences of leader humor on subordinates have been well documented, the important issues of how and when leader humor affects employees’ attitudes or behaviors beyond the workplace have received limited attention. We integrate the humor literature with spillover-crossover theory to address the gap regarding the implications of leader humor in the nonwork domain. By performing an experiment and two field studies involving employee-spouse dyads, we consistently find 1) a positive association between leader humor and followers’ job satisfaction, 2) a spillover effect of followers’ job satisfaction on subordinates’ work-to-family enrichment (WFE) and a crossover effect of subordinates’ WFE on their spouses’ marital satisfaction, 3) serial mediating effects of followers’ job satisfaction and WFE on the leader humor-spouses’ marital satisfaction link, and 4) a stronger positive indirect effect of leader humor on spouse’ marital satisfaction via followers’ job satisfaction and WFE when followers’ perceived organizational interpersonal harmony is low. We discuss the theoretical implications of these findings and suggest practical implications for developing leader humor to enhance employee well-being.
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Over the last two decades, news-oriented comedy programs have risen to compete with traditional hard news media as sources of information about politics. To the extent that a politically knowledgeable electorate is necessary for a thriving democracy, understanding the mechanisms underlying the extent to which political comedy facilitates or inhibits a well-informed citizenry is critical. Across two studies, we use behavioral experiments and neuroimaging to examine the causal effects of humor on the desire to share and the capacity to remember political information. We find that humor increases the likelihood to share political information with others and enhances people’s memory for information. Humor also increases brain response in regions associated with understanding other people’s mental states (i.e., mentalizing), which advances a theoretical framework that humor may facilitate considerations of others’ views (e.g., how other people will respond to shared political information).
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Despite the broad importance of humor, psychologists do not agree on the basic elements that cause people to experience laughter, amusement, and the perception that something is funny. There are more than 20 distinct psychological theories that propose appraisals that characterize humor appreciation. Most of these theories leverage a subset of five potential antecedents of humor appreciation: surprise, simultaneity, superiority, a violation appraisal, and conditions that facilitate a benign appraisal. We evaluate each antecedent against the existing empirical evidence and find that simultaneity, violation, and benign appraisals all help distinguish humorous from nonhumorous experiences, but surprise and superiority do not. Our review helps organize a disconnected literature, dispel popular but inaccurate ideas, offers a framework for future research, and helps answer three long-standing questions about humor: what conditions predict laughter and amusement, what are the adaptive benefits of humor, and why do different people think vastly different things are humorous?
Article
Sexist humor is a common form of disparagement humor that is nonetheless understudied in romantic attraction contexts. Three experiments investigated how sexist humor is perceived and received during relationship initiation. In Study 1 (n = 262) participants rated self‐directed sexist humor as more affiliative (only women), less aggressive, and more self‐defeating than other‐directed sexist humor. Study 2 (n = 209) replicated these findings and found that women romantically preferred men who used self‐ rather than other‐directed sexist humor, an effect mediated by perceived warmth. Self‐directed sexist humor's attractiveness advantage persisted in Study 3 (n = 667), which also included manipulations of self‐disparaging, group‐disparaging, and benign humor. Results suggest a romantic cost for men telling sexist jokes that disparage women.
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Despite the continuous increase in empirical research on leader humor, the important issue of how and when leader humor affects employees’ interpersonal, proactive behaviors in the form of upward voice has largely been overlooked. Drawing on relational process model of humor and data from one multiwave, multisource field study and one experimental field study, we find that the positive effects of leader humor on upward voice behavior can be accounted for by both supervisor–subordinate nonwork ties (i.e., supervisor–subordinate guanxi) and supervisor–subordinate work ties (i.e., leader–member exchange). The indirect effects of both supervisor–subordinate guanxi and leader–member exchange on the relationship between leader humor and upward voice behavior are stronger when employees score low on traditionality. These results shed light on the role of leader humor in promoting the bottom–up flow of potentially critical information in organizations through high-quality relationships with followers and provide insights into who will benefit more from humor in leadership.
Research Proposal
In this paper, the effect of refusing (vs. accepting) non-promotable work requests on status bestowed on these requestees and the factors that regulate this status conferral process is examined. Theory and predictions related to this refusal-status link are developed. Six experimental studies using participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk and Prolific Academic are proposed to test the predictions empirically. It is proposed that declining (compared to accepting) non-promotable requests enhances perceptions of competence but decreases perceptions of group-oriented motivations. Thus, on the one hand, refusals enhance status through enhanced competence perceptions. On the other hand, refusals reduce status through decreased group-oriented motivation perceptions. The net result of refusals on status through both the competence and group-oriented perceptions routes is proposed to be examined in an exploratory manner through a parallel mediation model. Boundary conditions of the refusal-status link are outlined. It is proposed that those who refuse through indirect means such as offering a considerate refusal response (compared to those who refuse directly or accept) are perceived as most competent. They are also seen as more group-oriented than those who refuse directly but less group-oriented than those who accept non-promotable requests. Refusing requests from higher status (compared to equal status) requesters leads to increased competence perceptions. Finally, other boundary conditions, such as the requestee’s gender, the rater’s gender, the rater’s assertiveness levels, and the rater’s moral personality (moral character and moral foundations) are proposed to be examined in an exploratory manner.
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Ironic consumption refers to using a product (brand, style, behavior, etc.) with the intent of signaling a meaning (identity, message, belief, etc.) that reverses the conventional meaning of the product. We report five studies showing that people are more likely to think that a consumer is using a product ironically when the product is incongruent with the consumer’s known identity or beliefs. The impression that ironic consumers make on an observer depends on the observer’s relationship with the consumed product. When a consumer uses a product associated with the observer’s in-group (e.g., wearing a “Powered by Kale” shirt in front of a vegan), observers have a less favorable impression if they believe the consumer is using the product ironically. Conversely, when a consumer uses a product that is not associated with the observer’s in-group (e.g., wearing a “Powered by Kale” shirt in front of a meat-eater), observers have a more favorable impression if they believe the consumer is using the product ironically. Collectively, our studies suggest that consumers can use products ironically to selectively signal one meaning to an in-group (who is likely to detect irony), and another to out-groups (who are unlikely to detect irony).
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In a familiar parable, a group of blind men try to discern the shape of an elephant, but each man's perspective differs depending on whether he's touching the trunk, tusk, or tail (Fig. 1). After 2,500 years of studying humor, scientists similarly have differing perspectives on what makes things funny (1). We present three common perspectives on humor. Although each is insightful, no one perspective suffices to explain why so many dissimilar things—tickle attacks, foolish behavior, puns, absurdities, and sitcoms—can be humorous. However, integrating the three perspectives into an account of humor as a response to benign violations discerns the whole animal from its parts and thus better explains how laughter and amusement come about.
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Although complaints document dissatisfaction, some are also humorous. The article introduces the concept of humorous complaining and draws on the benign violation theory—which proposes that humor arises from things that seem simultaneously wrong yet okay—to examine how being humorous helps and hinders complainers. Six studies, which use social media and online reviews as stimuli, show that humorous complaints benefit people who want to warn, entertain, and make a favorable impression on others. Further, in contrast to the belief that humor is beneficial but consistent with the benign violation theory, humor makes complaints seem more positive (by making an expression of dissatisfaction seem okay), but makes praise seem more negative (by making an expression of satisfaction seem wrong in some way). Finally, a benign violation approach perspective also reveals that complaining humorously has costs. Because being humorous suggests that a dissatisfying situation is okay, humorous complaints are less likely to elicit redress or sympathy from others than nonhumorous complaints.
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Research on humor in organizations has rarely considered the social context in which humor occurs. One such social setting that most of us experience on a daily basis concerns the team context. Building on recent theorizing about the humor-performance link in teams, this study seeks to increase our understanding of the function and effects of humor in team interaction settings. We examined behavioral patterns of humor and laughter in real teams by videotaping and coding humor and laughter during 54 regular organizational team meetings. Performance ratings were obtained immediately following the team meetings as well as at a later time point from the teams' supervisors. At the behavioral unit level within the team interaction process, lag sequential analysis identified humor and laughter patterns occurring above chance (e.g., a joke followed by laughter, followed by another joke). Moreover, humor patterns triggered positive socioemotional communication, procedural structure, and new solutions. At the team level, humor patterns (but not humor or laughter alone) positively related to team performance, both immediately and 2 years later. Team-level job insecurity climate was identified as a boundary condition: In low job insecurity climate conditions, humor patterns were positively related to performance, whereas in high job insecurity climate conditions, humor patterns did not relate to team performance. The role of job insecurity as a boundary condition persisted at both time points. These findings underscore the importance of studying team interactions for understanding the role of humor in organizations and considering team-level boundary conditions over time. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate leaders’ use of humor as an expression of how they value themselves relative to others. The paper suggests that humor can minimize or exacerbate the status differences between leaders and followers. The paper hypothesizes that leaders’ use of self‐ or in‐group‐deprecating humor would be positively associated with ratings of transformational leadership as they minimize those distinctions, whereas leaders’ use of aggressive humor would be negatively associated with ratings of transformational leadership because it exacerbates status distinctions. Design/methodology/approach A total of 155 undergraduates (58 males, 97 females; M age=20 years, SD =1.31) were assigned randomly to one of four conditions, each depicting a different type of humor in a leader's speech. Findings Leaders using self‐deprecating humor were rated higher on individualized consideration (a factor of transformational leadership) than those that used aggressive humor. Research limitations/implications The authors encourage future field research on the role of humor as an expression of leaders’ self‐ versus other‐orientation. Originality/value Humor and work might seem inconsistent, but this study demonstrates how leadership can use humor to improve leader‐follower relationships. Furthermore, it contributes to our understanding of self‐deprecating humor which has received scant attention relative to other forms of humor.
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We propose that the psychological states individuals bring into newly formed groups can produce meaningful differences in status attainment. Three experiments explored whether experimentally created approach-oriented mindsets affected status attainment in groups, both immediately and over time. We predicted that approach-oriented states would lead to greater status attainment by increasing proactive behavior. Furthermore, we hypothesized that these status gains would persist longitudinally, days after the original mindsets had dissipated, due to the self-reinforcing behavioral cycles the approach-oriented states initiated. In Experiment 1, individuals primed with a promotion focus achieved higher status in their newly formed groups, and this was mediated by proactive behavior as rated by themselves and their teammates. Experiment 2 was a longitudinal experiment and revealed that individuals primed with power achieved higher status, both immediately following the prime and when the groups were reassembled 2 days later to work on new tasks. These effects were mediated by independent coders' ratings of proactive behavior during the first few minutes of group interaction. Experiment 3 was another longitudinal experiment and revealed that priming happiness led to greater status as well as greater acquisition of material resources. Importantly, these immediate and longitudinal effects were independent of the effects of a number of stable dispositional traits. Our results establish that approach-oriented psychological states affect status attainment, over and above the more stable characteristics emphasized in prior research, and provide the most direct test yet of the self-reinforcing nature of status hierarchies. These findings depict a dynamic view of status organization in which the same group may organize itself differently depending on members' incoming psychological states. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
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Examination of human prestige-striving in phylogenetic perspective suggests it to be essentially homologous with primate social dominance. In our own species, however, selection for "cultural capacity" has transformed striving for social dominance into striving to evaluate the self as being higher in rank than others or, in other words, into striving for self-esteem. We maintain self-esteem through symbolic means, usually referred to as seeking "prestige." We also utilize various distortions of perception and cognition to this end, including rationalization, identification, and change of reference group. Prestige strategies may emphasize attaining prestige through being part of a prestigious group or may be more individualistically oriented. They may also stress receipt of the approbation of internal representations of absent or imaginary others or emphasize the respect of those physically present. Traditional societies provide culturally patterned strategies which tend to perpetuate these societies. Thus, success in the hunt brings prestige among hunting peoples, large herds among pastoralists, etc. Culturally constituted rationalizations help to maintain the self-esteem of those who fail. Culture contact is one of the chief causes of the failure of prestige-allocation systems, the very existence of wealthy and powerful newcomers devaluing the coin of the prestige obtainable through traditional strategies. Newly development prestige strategies are likely to have deleterious long-term effects on social stability. The so-called need for achievement reveals itself to be a particular type of prestige strategy, one emphasizing entrepreneurial tactics.
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Hierarchy is such a defining and pervasive feature of organizations that its forms and basic functions are often taken for granted in organizational research. In this review, we revisit some basic psychological and sociological elements of hierarchy and argue that status and power are two important yet distinct bases of hierarchical differentiation. We first define power and status and distinguish our definitions from previous conceptualizations. We then integrate a number of different literatures to explain why status and power hierarchies tend to be self‐reinforcing. Power, related to one’s control over valued resources, transforms individual psychology such that the powerful think and act in ways that lead to the retention and acquisition of power. Status, related to the respect one has in the eyes of others, generates expectations for behavior and opportunities for advancement that favor those with a prior status advantage. We also explore the role that hierarchy‐enhancing belief systems play in stabilizing hierarchy, both from the bottom up and from the top down. Finally, we address a number of factors that we think are instrumental in explaining the conditions under which hierarchies change. Our framework suggests a number of avenues for future research on the bases, causes, and consequences of hierarchy in groups and organizations.
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of humor in online negotiations and assess whether humor can act as a bridge for the otherwise relationship‐poor experience of negotiating via e‐mail. Design/methodology/approach Two experimental studies are conducted, using 122 executive MBA students and 216 MBA students respectively. Findings Study 1 demonstrates that beginning an e‐mail transaction with humor results in: increased trust and satisfaction levels; higher joint gains for the dyad; and higher individual gains for the party who initiated the humorous event. Analyses reveals that it is the exploration of compatible issues (as opposed to effective tradeoffs) – that increased the level of joint gain. Study 2 demonstrates that first offers in a purely distributive negotiation are more likely to be within the bargaining zone when e‐negotiations are initiated with humor, and the resulting final settlements in the humor condition are also more equally distributed between parties (more of an “even split”) than are transactions without a humorous start. Research limitations/implications The highly controlled laboratory setting (the classroom) limits the generalizability and encourages future research in a more real‐world setting. Practical implications Managers may benefit by making personal connections in the online realm before engaging in professional communications, such as strategically employing humor at the outset of e‐mail negotiations. Originality/value This is the first study to empirically explore the direct role of humor in online negotiations a controlled experimental setting, and find its positive effects on the negotiation process.
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Evaluated the laugh- and/or smile-evoking potency of laughter by observing responses of 128 undergraduates to laugh stimuli produced by a "laugh box." Ss recorded whether they laughed and/or smiled during each of 10 trials, each of which consisted of an 18-sec sample of laughter. Most Ss laughed and smiled in response to the 1st presentation of laughter. However, by the 10th trial, few Ss laughed and/or smiled, and most found the stimulus obnoxious. Results confirm that laughter itself evokes laughter, perhaps by activating a laughter-specific auditory-feature detector. This result is relevant to the neurological basis of social communication, human ethology, and theories of speech production and perception. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Drawing on E. Goffman's concepts of face and strategic interaction, the authors define a tease as a playful provocation in which one person comments on something relevant to the target. This approach encompasses the diverse behaviors labeled teasing, clarifies previous ambiguities, differentiates teasing from related practices, and suggests how teasing can lead to hostile or affiliative outcomes. The authors then integrate studies of the content of teasing. Studies indicate that norm violations and conflict prompt teasing. With development, children tease in playful ways, particularly around the ages of 11 and 12 years, and understand and enjoy teasing more. Finally, consistent with hypotheses concerning contextual variation in face concerns, teasing is more frequent and hostile when initiated by high-status and familiar others and men, although gender differences are smaller than assumed. The authors conclude by discussing how teasing varies according to individual differences and culture.
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Humor is ubiquitous and often beneficial, but the conditions that elicit it have been debated for millennia. We examine two factors that jointly influence perceptions of humor: the degree to which a stimulus is a violation (tragedy vs. mishap) and one's perceived distance from the stimulus (far vs. close). Five studies show that tragedies (which feature severe violations) are more humorous when temporally, socially, hypothetically, or spatially distant, but that mishaps (which feature mild violations) are more humorous when psychologically close. Although prevailing theories of humor have difficulty explaining the interaction between severity and distance revealed in these studies, our results are consistent with the proposal that humor occurs when a violation simultaneously seems benign. This benign-violation account suggests that distance facilitates humor in the case of tragedies by reducing threat, but that closeness facilitates humor in the case of mishaps by maintaining some sense of threat.
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Dozens of studies in different nations have revealed that socioeconomic status only weakly predicts an individual's subjective well-being (SWB). These results imply that although the pursuit of social status is a fundamental human motivation, achieving high status has little impact on one's SWB. However, we propose that sociometric status-the respect and admiration one has in face-to-face groups (e.g., among friends or coworkers)-has a stronger effect on SWB than does socioeconomic status. Using correlational, experimental, and longitudinal methodologies, four studies found consistent evidence for a local-ladder effect: Sociometric status significantly predicted satisfaction with life and the experience of positive and negative emotions. Longitudinally, as sociometric status rose or fell, SWB rose or fell accordingly. Furthermore, these effects were driven by feelings of power and social acceptance. Overall, individuals' sociometric status matters more to their SWB than does their socioeconomic status.
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Three experiments illustrate that humor in advertisements prevents the development of negative brand associations due to resistance. Previous research on humor in advertising suggested that humor can counter negative responses during ad processing, but less is known about the effect of humor on the development of negative brand associations in memory. Brand associations are important because there is often a time delay between ad exposure and brand decisions. We separately manipulated two typical aspects of humor processing, that is, distraction and positive affect, and examined their effects on the development of respectively negative and positive brand associations. All experiments were conducted with university students as participants. The results showed that resistance causes negative brand associations (Experiments 1 and 2), and humor prevents the development of these negative brand associations more than nondistracting positive stimuli and neutral stimuli (Experiment 2 and 3). The prevention of negative brand associations was caused by the distractive properties of humor. Irrespective of resistance, the positive affect engendered by humor enhanced positive brand associations. Experiment 3 showed that distraction and positive affect in humor uniquely contribute to brand preference. Together, these results illustrate that the effect of humor on resistance follows a two-step process: humor forestalls the development of negative brand associations because of its distractive properties (cognitive mechanism), and engenders positive brand associations because of its positive emotional outcomes (affective mechanism). These effects of humor on brand associations jointly promote brand preference.
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Although the desire for high status is considered universal, prior research suggests individuals often opt for lower status positions. Why would anyone favor a position of apparent disadvantage? In 5 studies, we found that the broad construct of status striving can be broken up into two conceptions: one based on rank, the other on respect. While individuals might universally desire high levels of respect, we find that they vary widely in the extent to which they strive for high-status rank, with many individuals opting for middle- or low-status rank. The status rank that individuals preferred depended on their self-perceived value to the group: when they believed they provided less value, they preferred lower status rank. Mediation and moderation analyses suggest that beliefs about others' expectations were the primary driver of these effects. Individuals who believed they provided little value to their group inferred that others expected them to occupy a lower status position. Individuals in turn conformed to these perceived expectations, accepting lower status rank in such settings.
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It has often been asserted, by both men and women, that men are funnier. We explored two possible explanations for such a view, first testing whether men, when instructed to be as funny as possible, write funnier cartoon captions than do women, and second examining whether there is a tendency to falsely remember funny things as having been produced by men. A total of 32 participants, half from each gender, wrote captions for 20 cartoons. Raters then indicated the humor success of these captions. Raters of both genders found the captions written by males funnier, though this preference was significantly stronger among the male raters. In the second experiment, male and female participants were presented with the funniest and least funny captions from the first experiment, along with the caption author's gender. On a memory test, both females and males disproportionately misattributed the humorous captions to males and the nonhumorous captions to females. Men might think men are funnier because they actually find them so, but though women rated the captions written by males slightly higher, our data suggest that they may regard men as funnier more because they falsely attribute funny things to them.
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Bridging the literatures on social dilemmas, intergroup conflict, and social hierarchy, the authors systematically varied the intergroup context in which social dilemmas were embedded to investigate how costly contributions to public goods influence status conferral. They predicted that contribution behavior would have opposite effects on 2 forms of status-prestige and dominance-depending on its consequences for the self, in-group and out-group members. When the only way to benefit in-group members was by harming out-group members (Study 1), contributions increased prestige and decreased dominance, compared with free-riding. Adding the option of benefitting in-group members without harming out-group members (Study 2) decreased the prestige and increased the dominance of those who chose to benefit in-group members via intergroup competition. Finally, sharing resources with both in-group and out-group members decreased perceptions of both prestige and dominance, compared with sharing them with in-group members only (Study 3). Prestige and dominance differentially mediated the effects of contribution behavior on leader election, exclusion from the group, and choices of a group representative for an intergroup competition. Taken together, these findings show that the well-established relationship between contribution and status is moderated by both the intergroup context and the conceptualization of status.
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Stereotype research emphasizes systematic processes over seemingly arbitrary contents, but content also may prove systematic. On the basis of stereotypes' intergroup functions, the stereotype content model hypothesizes that (a) 2 primary dimensions are competence and warmth, (b) frequent mixed clusters combine high warmth with low competence (paternalistic) or high competence with low warmth (envious), and (c) distinct emotions (pity, envy, admiration, contempt) differentiate the 4 competence-warmth combinations. Stereotypically, (d) status predicts high competence, and competition predicts low warmth. Nine varied samples rated gender, ethnicity, race, class, age, and disability out-groups. Contrary to antipathy models, 2 dimensions mattered, and many stereotypes were mixed, either pitying (low competence, high warmth subordinates) or envying (high competence, low warmth competitors). Stereotypically, status predicted competence, and competition predicted low warmth.
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After 2.5 millennia of philosophical deliberation and psychological experimentation, most scholars have concluded that humor arises from incongruity. We highlight 2 limitations of incongruity theories of humor. First, incongruity is not consistently defined. The literature describes incongruity in at least 4 ways: surprise, juxtaposition, atypicality, and a violation. Second, regardless of definition, incongruity alone does not adequately differentiate humorous from nonhumorous experiences. We suggest revising incongruity theory by proposing that humor arises from a benign violation: something that threatens a person's well-being, identity, or normative belief structure but that simultaneously seems okay. Six studies, which use entertainment, consumer products, and social interaction as stimuli, reveal that the benign violation hypothesis better differentiates humorous from nonhumorous experiences than common conceptualizations of incongruity. A benign violation conceptualization of humor improves accuracy by reducing the likelihood that joyous, amazing, and tragic situations are inaccurately predicted to be humorous. (PsycINFO Database Record
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Sarcasm is ubiquitous in organizations. Despite its prevalence, we know surprisingly little about the cognitive experiences of sarcastic expressers and recipients or their behavioral implications. The current research proposes and tests a novel theoretical model in which both the construction and interpretation of sarcasm lead to greater creativity because they activate abstract thinking. Studies 1 and 2 found that both sarcasm expressers and recipients reported more conflict but also demonstrated enhanced creativity following a simulated sarcastic conversation or after recalling a sarcastic exchange. Study 3 demonstrated that sarcasm’s effect on creativity for both parties was mediated by abstract thinking and generalizes across different forms of sarcasm. Finally, Study 4 found that when participants expressed sarcasm toward or received sarcasm from a trusted other, creativity increased but conflict did not. We discuss sarcasm as a double-edged sword: despite its role in instigating conflict, it can also be a catalyst for creativity.
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Conventional wisdom from the popular and scholarly literatures consistently suggests that positive humor by leaders can be beneficial, but that negative humor should be avoided at all costs. To explore the boundaries of that conventional wisdom, we draw on leadership and humor theory to develop and test a conceptual model describing the relationships between leader humor, leader–subordinate relationship quality, the subordinate’s tenure with the leader, and subordinate job satisfaction. Analysis of multilevel data from 241 subordinates nested within 70 leaders in 54 organizations revealed that the relationship between leader humor and job satisfaction was dependent on the quality of the leader–subordinate relationship, and not the positive/negative tone of the leader’s humor. Specifically, both positive and negative (i.e., affiliative and aggressive) leader humor styles were positively associated with job satisfaction when the relationship was positive, but both types were negatively associated with job satisfaction when the relationship was negative. Our results also suggested that the effects of positive humor increased with increasing subordinate tenure. We discuss the practical implications of these findings, including the importance of understanding the relational context of humor.
Book
Research on humor is carried out in a number of areas in psychology, including the cognitive (What makes something funny?), developmental (when do we develop a sense of humor?), and social (how is humor used in social interactions?) Although there is enough interest in the area to have spawned several societies, the literature is dispersed in a number of primary journals, with little in the way of integration of the material into a book. Dr. Martin is one of the best known researchers in the area, and his research goes across subdisciplines in psychology to be of wide appeal. This is a singly authored monograph that provides in one source, a summary of information researchers might wish to know about research into the psychology of humor. The material is scholarly, but the presentation of the material is suitable for people unfamiliar with the subject-making the book suitable for use for advanced undergraduate and graduate level courses on the psychology of humor-which have not had a textbook source.
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In this study, we examined the links between leadership style, the use of humor, and two measures of performance. Results indicated that leadership style was moderated by the use of humor in its relationship with individual and unit-level performance. Implications for further research on the use of humor by leaders are discussed.
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Previous research on ingratiation in organizations has identified various categories of ingratiatory behaviors. However, these studies have failed to mention or investigate the ingratiatory power of humor. I integrate past research on ingratiation with research on humor in organizations to propose humor as a type of ingratiatory behavior in the workplace. I describe how humor affects targets, including determinants of humor's effectiveness as an ingratiation strategy, and various outcomes of humor as an ingratiation tactic.
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One of sociology's classic puzzles is how groups motivate their members to set aside self-interest and contribute to collective action. This article presents a solution to the problem based on status as a selective incentive motivating contribution. Contributors to collective action signal their motivation to help the group and consequently earn diverse benefits from group members - in particular, higher status - and these rewards encourage greater giving to the group in the future. In Study 1, high contributors to collective action earned higher status, exercised more interpersonal influence, were cooperated with more, and received gifts of greater value. Studies 2 and 3 replicated these findings while discounting alternative explanations. All three studies show that giving to the group mattered because it signaled an individual's motivation to help the group. Study 4 finds that participants who received status for their contributions subsequently contributed more and viewed the group more positively. These results demonstrate how the allocation of respect to contributors shapes group productivity and solidarity, offering a solution to the collective action problem.
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This paper discusses the small groups literature on status organizing processes in decision-making groups whose members differ in external status. This literature demonstrates that status characteristics, such as age, sex, and race determine the distribution of participation, influence, and prestige among members of such groups. This effect is independent of any prior cultural belief in the relevance of the status characteristic to the task. To explain this result, we assume that status determines evaluations of, and performance-expectations for group members and hence the distribution of participation, influence, and prestige. We stipulate conditions sufficient to produce this effect. Further, to explain the fact that the effect is independent of prior cultural belief, we assume that a status characteristic becomes relevant in all situations except when it is culturally known to be irrelevant. Direct experiment supports each assumption in this explanation independently of the others. Subsequent work devoted to refining and extending the theory finds among other things that, given two equally relevant status characteristics, individuals combine all inconsistent status information rather than reduce its inconsistency. If this result survives further experiment it extends the theory on a straightforward basis to multi-characteristic status situations.
Article
In a dyadic bargaining paradigm, at a predetermined point in the negotiation, subjects received an influence attempt from a confederate that varied in size and was administered in either a humorous or a nonhumorous way. Results support the major hypothesis that humor results in an increased financial concession. The use of humor led to a more positive evaluation of the task and marginally lessened self-reported tension, but did not increase liking for the partner. Consistent with past research using social tasks, females laughed and smiled more than males.
Article
This article describes micro-macro processes through which simple structural conditions cause a nominal characteristic such as gender or race to acquire independent status value. These conditions are sufficient but not necessary and may or may not be involved in the actual historical origin of a given characteristic's status value. The argument assumes that a nominal characteristic becomes correlated with a difference in exchangeable resources. Blau's (1977) structural theory specifies the effects of the distribution of resources and the nominal characteristic on the likely characteristics of interactants in encounters. Expectation-states theory describes the situational beliefs about worthiness that develop among the resulting types of interactants. I combine the two theories to show where the nominal characteristic is likely to be connected with such situational beliefs, how this connection is affected by transfer and diffusion among types of interactants, and how this process can produce consensual beliefs in the characteristic's status value.
Article
Virtually all discussions and applications of statistical mediation analysis have been based on the condition that the independent variable is dichotomous or continuous, even though investigators frequently are interested in testing mediation hypotheses involving a multicategorical independent variable (such as two or more experimental conditions relative to a control group). We provide a tutorial illustrating an approach to estimation of and inference about direct, indirect, and total effects in statistical mediation analysis with a multicategorical independent variable. The approach is mathematically equivalent to analysis of (co)variance and reproduces the observed and adjusted group means while also generating effects having simple interpretations. Supplementary material available online includes extensions to this approach and Mplus, SPSS, and SAS code that implements it.
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Conspicuous consumption and its accompanying debt played a critical role in crippling global financial markets in 2008. Although a confluence of factors contribute to hyper-consumerism, the authors explore the potential role of two psychological forces—the desire to combat self-threats through compensatory consumption and the relatively pain-free experience of consuming on credit—that may have interactively contributed to the pernicious cycle of consumption and debt. Consistent with their predictions, the authors find that self-threat sways individuals to consume with credit over cash (Experiment 1) and the interactive effect of self-threat, product status, and payment method creates a perfect storm, whereby threatened individuals not only seek to consume high-status goods but also, when using credit, do so at higher costs to themselves (Experiment 2). These findings have broad implications for consumer decision making and offer psychologically grounded insights into the regulation of lending policies aimed at promoting consumer health.
Article
Reasoning about the evolution of our species' capacity for cumulative cultural learning has led culture–gene coevolutionary (CGC) theorists to predict that humans should possess several learning biases which robustly enhance the fitness of cultural learners. Meanwhile, developmental psychologists have begun using experimental procedures to probe the learning biases that young children actually possess — a methodology ripe for testing CGC. Here we report the first direct tests in children of CGC's prediction of prestige bias, a tendency to learn from individuals to whom others have preferentially attended, learned or deferred. Our first study showed that the odds of 3- and 4-year-old children learning from an adult model to whom bystanders had previously preferentially attended for 10 seconds (the prestigious model) were over twice those of their learning from a model whom bystanders ignored. Moreover, this effect appears domain-sensitive: in Study 2 when bystanders preferentially observed a prestigious model using artifacts, she was learned from more often on subsequent artifact-use tasks (odds almost five times greater) but not on food-preference tasks, while the reverse was true of a model who received preferential bystander attention while expressing food preferences.
Article
This research investigated the relation between sexism, general prejudice, and reactions to sexist humor. Eighty-one male participants completed measures of modern sexism, ambivalent sexism, right-wing authoritarianism, and social dominance orientation, and rated the funniness, offensiveness, and likelihood of repeating female-disparaging and male-disparaging jokes. Results revealed that men who were higher in hostile sexism were especially likely to report that they would repeat the female-disparaging jokes, and rated these jokes as funnier than did men who were lower in hostile sexism. In addition, the relation between hostile sexism and the likelihood of repeating these jokes was mediated by their perceived funniness. These effects were not evident for the male-disparaging jokes. Results are discussed in terms of the function of sexist humor.
Article
A number of studies have demonstrated that humor can impact both horizontal and vertical relationships in organizations, but little is known about the interpersonal processes underlying this link. By integrating theory and research from the fields of philosophy, social psychology, communications, and leadership, it is possible to illuminate a combination of processes which, considered collectively, explain humor's ability to create, maintain, impede, or destroy relationships at work. I first review the classical theories of humor, which explain what motivates individuals to express humor and what determines humor enjoyment. However, since these frameworks focus on humor at the individual-level of analysis, they cannot speak to the social processes involved in a humor exchange. Research in the fields of social psychology, communications, and leadership provides insight regarding the remaining social mechanisms. In sum, it appears that interpersonal humor operates through four related but distinct processes: affect-reinforcement, similarity-attraction, self-disclosure, and hierarchical salience. These social processes are proposed to function in addition to (not in lieu of) the individual-level mechanisms the classical humor theories describe. The discussion, thus, culminates in a relational process model of humor, contributing a more fine-grained understanding of interpersonal humor to the organizational literature.
Article
Humor is seen as a virtuous personality trait that can be used to release tension, convey organizational roles, and alleviate boredom. What may be perceived as a humorous joke to one person, however, could be considered inappropriate or offensive to another. Thus, joking may impact on civil and human rights litigation and on the quality of work life. To further understand perceptions of humor and joking, 165 subjects were asked to evaluate the appropriateness of three types of jokes in work settings. Whites and females considered racist and sexist jokes more inappropriate than blacks and males. Inexperienced employees considered all joking behavior at work to be less appropriate than experienced employees.
Article
Linking nonverbal behavior to influence in task groups has been interpreted as evidence that behavioral dominance is the basis of status. Challenging this interpretation, this paper proposes that both the power processes that underlie status formation and the structural implications of dominance hierarchies indicate that expectations about task performance will be the usual basis of status in task groups. Furthermore, while some nonverbal behavior communicates dominance, it is not linked to influence. Influence results from nonverbal task cues that affect the performance expectations of an actor. An experiment tested this hypothesis by measuring the influence achieved by a female confederate in a three-person female group. As expected, the confederate was most influential when she displayed high-level task cues. When she displayed a high level of dominance cues, the confederate was not more influential than when she displayed submissive or low-task cues. The results suggest that status is a collective product of the entire network of group members, rather than an aggregate of pairwise competitions among members.
Article
Forty Ss listened to two humorous recordings one with and one without the dubbed laughter of a group of people. In the condition of group laughter Ss laughed more frequently and for longer. They also rated the humorous material as more amusing.
Article
Humor, that certain psychological state which tends to produce laughter, is fully characterized by three conditions which individually are necessary and jointly sufficient for humor to occur. The conditions of this theory describe a subjective state of apparent emotional absurdity, where the perceived situation is seen as normal, and where, simultaneously, some affective commitment of the perceiver to the way something in the situation ought to be is violated. This theory is explained in detail and its logical properties and empirical consequences are explored. Recognized properties of humor are explained (incongruity, surprise, aggression, emotional transformation, apparent comprehension difficulty, etc.). A wide variety of biological, social/communicational, and other classes of humor-related phenomena are characterized and explained in terms of the theory. Practical applications are suggested, including ways to figure out misunderstandings in everyday life.
Article
In recent studies of the structure of affect, positive and negative affect have consistently emerged as two dominant and relatively independent dimensions. A number of mood scales have been created to measure these factors; however, many existing measures are inadequate, showing low reliability or poor convergent or discriminant validity. To fill the need for reliable and valid Positive Affect and Negative Affect scales that are also brief and easy to administer, we developed two 10-item mood scales that comprise the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). The scales are shown to be highly internally consistent, largely uncorrelated, and stable at appropriate levels over a 2-month time period. Normative data and factorial and external evidence of convergent and discriminant validity for the scales are also presented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Humor may be a useful managerial tool, contributing to effectiveness and subordinate satisfaction. A survey explored 290 workers' job satisfaction and impressions of supervisors as a function of subject age, subject sex, supervisor sense of humor, and supervisor sexual humor. Subjects rating their supervisors high in sense of humor reported higher job satisfaction and rated other supervisor qualities higher than did subjects rating their supervisors low in sense of humor. In general, the differences between ratings, given low and high sense of humor supervisors, were greater for younger (under 25) subjects than older. Older females downgraded supervisors who used sexual humor, while younger females and males did not. Future research should attempt to relate humor to objective measures of leader effectiveness.
Article
Examined comprehension and memory for sarcastic statements in conversation in 6 experiments with 256 undergraduates. Data from 3 reading-time studies indicate that Ss did not need to first process the literal meanings of sarcastic expressions, such as "You're a fine friend" (meaning "You're a bad friend"), before deriving their nonliteral, sarcastic-interpretations. Ss also comprehended instances of sarcasm based on an explicit echoic mention of some belief, societal norm, or previously stated opinion faster than they did instances in which the echo was only implicit. Three additional experiments examining memory for sarcasm showed that sarcasm was remembered much better than literal uses of the same expressions of nonsarcastic equivalents. Ss recalled sarcasm that explicitly echoed a previously mentioned belief or societal norm more often than they remembered sarcasm that did not involve some explicit echo. Overall results demonstrate that ease of processing and memory for sarcastic utterances depends crucially on how explicitly a speaker's statement echoes either the addressee or some other source's putative beliefs, opinions, or previous statement. (41 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Reexamines, via meta-analysis, the relation between personality traits and leadership perceptions or extent of leader emergence, arguing that prior research on trait theories and leadership has been misinterpreted as applying to a leader's effect on performance when it actually pertains to the relation of leadership traits to leadership emergence. Further, based on current theories of social perceptions, several traits were expected to be strongly related to leadership perceptions. The meta-analytic technique of validity generalization was used with the 15 articles identified by R. D. Mann (see record 1960-04194-001) as investigating the relationship between personality traits and leadership. These studies were then pooled with 9 subsequent studies in an additional set of meta-analyses. Results support the expectation in that intelligence, masculinity–femininity, and dominance were significantly related to leadership perceptions. Findings show that variability across studies in the relation of these traits to leadership perceptions could be explained largely by methodological factors, indicating that contingency theories of leadership perceptions may not be needed. Both of these results contrast with the conclusions of earlier nonquantitative literature reviews on traits and leadership perceptions and with conventional thinking in the leadership area. (62 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Self-perception theory (D. J. Bem, 1972) implies that enjoyment of humorous stimuli is inferred by taking into account external factors affecting overt mirth. As a test of this logic, 60 women read 2 equally funny sets of jokes. A laugh track was played in their headphones for 1 of the 2 sets of jokes. Although the laugh track had no impact on Ss' mirth, Ss were told that it would facilitate, inhibit, or not affect smiling and laughter. As predicted, in a later free-time period when Ss could read the books from which the jokes came, Ss who were told the laugh track increased mirth spent most time reading the book whose jokes had not been accompanied by laughter (a discounting effect), whereas Ss who were told the laugh track decreased mirth spent most time reading the book whose jokes had been accompanied by laughter (an augmentation effect); Ss who were told the laugh track did not affect mirth read the 2 books equally. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Meta-analysis was used to examine findings in 2 related areas: experimental research on the physical attractiveness stereotype and correlational studies of characteristics associated with physical attractiveness. The experimental literature found that physically attractive people were perceived as more sociable, dominant, sexually warm, mentally healthy, intelligent, and socially skilled than physically unattractive people. Yet, the correlational literature indicated generally trivial relationships between physical attractiveness and measures of personality and mental ability, although good-looking people were less lonely, less socially anxious, more popular, more socially skilled, and more sexually experienced than unattractive people. Self-ratings of physical attractiveness were positively correlated with a wider range of attributes than was actual physical attractiveness. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
describe how the behavior categories were formulated and . . . present results of research conducted to validate the questionnaire (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Individuals conspicuously consume to signal their wealth. As a variant to this economic explanation, four studies explored individual’s psychological need for self-integrity as a potential motivating force for these consumption decisions. Relying on both field and experimental studies, and employing multiple instantiations of high-status goods and self-threat, we demonstrate that individuals consume status-infused products for their reparative effects on the ego. Individuals under self-threat sought ownership of high-status goods to nurse their psychological wounds (Study 1), and when afforded an alternate route to repair their self-integrity, sought these products less (Study 2). Furthermore, among a representative sample of US consumers, low-income individuals’ lowered self-esteem drove their willingness to spend on high-status goods (Study 3). Finally, these high-status goods serve the purpose of shielding an individual’s ego from future self-threats (Study 4). The compensatory role of high-status goods has important implications for consumer decision-making and public policies aimed at reducing consumer debt.
Article
This paper examines how the status of an out-group impacts effort in intergroup settings. The results provide evidence that people work harder when their individual performance is compared to a lower, as opposed to higher, status out-group member. Moreover, comparisons to a lower status out-group were found to elicit motivation gains as these participants worked harder than participants in the control (Studies 1–3) or in-group comparison conditions (Studies 2 and 3). In Study 4, evidence for the role of threat as an underlying mechanism was provided as gains in effort for those compared with a lower status out-group member were eliminated when participants self- or group-affirmed prior to comparison. Finally, Study 5 shows that both social identity threat and self-categorization threat underlie increases in effort for participants compared to a lower status out-group member. We detail a theoretical basis for our claim that performance comparisons with lower status out-group members are especially threatening, and discuss the implications for this research in terms of social identity and self-categorization theories as they relate to effort in intergroup contexts.
Article
To those with high status, abundance is granted. Moving beyond the multitude of objective benefits, the authors explore how status, once conferred, colors the perceptual world people inhabit. In four experiments, participants' status state influenced their judgments of status-relevant features in their environment. Participants in a state of high status reported hearing applause (Experiment 1) and seeing facial expressions (Experiment 2), in reaction to their performance, as louder and more favorable. In addition, expectations of how others will respond--expectations stemming from one's current status state--accounted for this effect (Experiment 3). Finally, differences in judgments between participants experiencing high versus low status were observed only when the target of the evaluation was the self (Experiment 4). These results advance scholars' understanding of the psychological experience of status and contribute to the growing literature on the dominant influence psychological states have on people's judgments of their social world.