Self-defeating humour promotes psychological well-being, study reveals

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Self-defeating humour promotes psychological well-being, study reveals

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 14 Feb 2018

New York, Feb 14 (IBNS): UGR researchers from the Mind, Brain and Behaviour Research Centre (CIMCYC) have established that individuals who frequently use self-defeating humour—aimed at gaining the approval of others through self-mockery—exhibit greater levels of psychological well-being.

The UGR group’s findings, recently published in the prestigious international journal Personality and Individual Differences,contradict some of the research carried out to date in the psychology of humour.

Up until now, a significant deal of the research literature has suggested that self-defeating humour is exclusively associated with negative psychological effects among individuals who regularly employ this style of humour.

Jorge Torres Marín, one of the researchers behind this groundbreaking UGR project, explains: “In particular, we have observed that a greater tendency to employ self-defeating humour is indicative of high scores in psychological well-being dimensions such as happiness and, to a lesser extent, sociability.”

“The results, as well as being consistent with the positive connotations traditionally attributed to the act of ‘laughing at oneself’ in our country, also suggest that the effects of self-defeating humour on well-being may differ depending on where the research takes places. Consequently, we believe it is necessary to conduct new studies aimed at analysing potential cultural differences in the use of this kind of humour”.

The implications arising from cultural or individual differences in terms of “senses of humour” have been poorly addressed in psychological research for two key reasons. Firstly, the comical nature of humour contributes—both among researchers and readers of specialised scientific literature—to certain biases and preconceived ideas that can skew their judgment when it comes to assessing the quality, relevance and applicability of humour-related data. Secondly, the enormous variety of comments, behaviours etc. that can be categorised as“humorous” has hindered the creation of a standardised theoretical framework for unifying all of the information collected to date in the scientific literature.

However, Hugo Carretero Dios emphasises: “Our research fits into one of the theoretical models that aim to overcome these limitations and provide the psychology of humour with a well-founded, accurate theoretical body of knowledge. This should enable us to discern the different behavioural tendencies related to the everyday use of humour, which can be classified in even greater depth by focusing on their adaptive, as opposed to their harmful, natures.”

Adaptive styles of humour include affiliative humour, which is aimed at strengthening social relationships. Self-enhancing humour, meanwhile, entails maintaining a humorous outlook in potentially stressful and adverse situations. These types of humour have consistently been linked to indicators of positive psychological well-being such as happiness, satisfaction with life, hope, etc. but also to more negative states such as depression and anxiety.

Moreover, the authors maintain that the “data revealed the existence of a curvilinear relationship between prosocial humour and personality dimensions such as kindness and honesty. This relationship means that low and high scores obtained in such personality traits are respectively linked to lower or higher propensities to make humorous comments aimed at building and strengthening social relationships”.

Self-defeating humour promotes psychological well-being, study reveals

India Blooms News Service
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