Self-Enhancing Humor Promotes Psychological Wellbeing

Written by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
Self-Enhancing Humor Promotes Psychological Wellbeing

They say laughter is the best medicine because it generates positive emotions that are beneficial for our psychological well-being. Your mental health plays a major role in physical health too.

It’s easy to laugh at jokes directed at other people, but some people aren’t willing to crack a joke or two at their own expense. Well, you should! The latest study showed that making jokes about yourself is a great way to boost happiness. Seriously!

Humor and Happiness

Everybody loves good humor, but individual differences in its use exist. After all, all people are different and we don’t find same things funny. What’s hilarious to one person may not be that funny to the other. These individual differences in the use of humor have become a popular topic in personality research.

Professor Jorge Torres-Marin and a team of researchers at the University of Granada, Spain carried out an interesting study that shows how the type of humor we use depicts our confidence and mental health.

In order to get answers on this subject, scientists applied psychometric analysis to a total of 1068 adults ages 18-65 who participated in five different studies.

Scientists inspected the effects of different types of humor such as self-defeating, self-enhancing, affiliative, and aggressive. Affiliative humor is characterized by saying humorous remarks or telling jokes while self-enhancing humor is the maintenance of humorous outlook during negative situations.

Findings were published in the Personality and Individual Differences[1] journal and they showed that self-enhancing humor, making jokes about yourself, was strongly associated with a higher ability to reduce angry feelings. Plus, self-enhancing humor decreases external expressions of anger. Although scientists expected self-enhancing humor to be correlated with the greatest deal of happiness, that didn’t happen.

Self-defeating Humor

Self-defeating humor was found to correlate with happiness the most. At the same time, this type of humor was closely related to greater anger suppression. Unsurprisingly, aggressive humor was associated with a higher experience and expression of anger in everyday situations.

Basically, the study showed that those who make self-depreciative jokes have strong self-esteem. Contrary to the popular belief, laughing at your own expense isn’t a sign of depression.

In fact, scientists didn’t find a link between self-depreciating humor and depression in the first place. What’s more, people who make jokes about themselves tend to be happier and are better socially adjusted than other persons.

Torres-Marin explains[2] that a greater tendency to employ self-defeating humor is indicative of high scores of psychological wellbeing. If you think about it, these findings make perfect sense.

People who tend to make jokes about themselves, regardless of the situation, are more confident.

On the other hand, those who refuse to laugh at their own expense and get angry when others crack a joke or two about them tend to be less confident and more subconscious.

Life is comprised of both good and bad times, but making a joke or two has the tremendous power to make you feel better instantly, even in the most stressful situations.

stressful situations

Humor can be Negative too

Humor is mainly positive experience, but it can be used to hide negative feelings as well. Scientists elaborate that humor, even when presented benign or well-intentioned, can represent a strategy for masking negative goals or intentions.

How? Well, humor allows people with lack of honesty to build closeness and trust with other persons. Then, they can use the important information to manipulate them or obtain a certain advantage in the future situations.

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The latest study discovered that self-defeating humor is correlated with happiness, psychological well-being, sociability, and other benefits. Therefore, make jokes about yourself, see the humor in different situations, and you’ll feel much better.

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Contributor : Dr. Ahmed Zayed ()

This Article Has Been Published on February 19, 2018 and Last Modified on December 12, 2018

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain Shams University. You can connect with him on Linkedin.

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