Why does humor sometimes defuse tension and bring you closer to your partner but other times leave you back-pedaling and saying, “I was just kidding!”? After observing couples engage in a conflict, researchers determined that the partners of individuals who used more affiliative humor (e.g., funny stories that emphasize the connection between partners) and less aggressive humor (e.g., sarcasm, criticism) felt closer after the discussion, thought the conflict was better resolved, and were more satisfied with their relationships overall.
Entries in humor (15)
In the 25th installment of SAGE's Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Maryhope Howland (a former PhD student at the University of Minnesota; now at Kent State University) talks about her research on how people with different attachment styles use humor in relationships.
Individuals high in attachment security are comfortable getting close to others and with having others get close to them; they also find relationships enjoyable and easy-going. In contrast, those with insecure attachments doubt whether their partners will be there for them in times of need. There are at least two strategies for dealing with this attachment insecurity: (a) become preoccupied with relational partners by being overly sensitive to partner’s emotional moves and developing a sustained expectation that partner’s will eventually betray or abandon them (i.e., attachment anxiety), and/or (b) avoid developing relationships of any significant emotional depth to avoid getting hurt in the first place, which often leads insecurely attached individuals to become emotionally aloof, overly fixated with self-reliance, and emotionally unavailable to others in times of need (i.e., attachment avoidance).
Chad Michael Murray, the actor from One Tree Hill, once said, “To all the girls out there who think being funny is not sexy, you are wrong!” Not only has a point, but there is some research to back him up. Two guys walk into a bar… and according to research, whomever women consider funnier will also be seen as more attractive and suitable for a long-term relationship.1 Having a funny partner may simply make them more fun to be around, but it is also possible that a good sense of humor indicates that a person has advanced language skills, creativity, abstract thinking, and intelligence.2 Put another way, a quick wit may signal the quality of a potential partner’s genetic make-up, which can lead that person to appear more attractive. Then again, maybe attractive people are more likely to be naturally funny, or are more likely to be perceived by others as funny. Recent research delves deeper into these issues to answer two key questions: Is being funny more attractive for short-term or long-term relationships? Does physical attractiveness influence ratings of funniness?
Each year at SPSP, (mostly) students and faculty line up to present over 1000 posters, which are descriptions of research studies presented on a 3-foot by 4-foot bulletin board. It’s quite a sight. With approximately 300+ presenters telling their scientific stories at any given poster session; these sessions can be a bit overwhelming and hectic to navigate. I slogged through such a poster session last night, and have returned with findings from three posters that I thought were particularly interesting.
A pirate walks into a bar with a steering wheel in his pants. The bartender looks at him, and says: “Hey buddy, that looks pretty uncomfortable.” The pirate says: “Arrrrrrrrr, it’s driving me nuts.” I have a feeling you find this joke very funny. As a consequence, you probably like me a lot at this point (unless I’m the only one who finds this joke funny).
You don’t need a scientist to inform you that we all love to laugh. Humor is a social phenomenon; some researchers have estimated that we laugh about 18 times a day, mostly in the company of others. It should come as no surprise then that we like those who make us laugh. Research routinely shows that both men and women want a partner who has a good sense of humor.
The Consultant was back in town this week and invited me for dinner and a show. The last time I saw him was over two weeks ago for our first date, so I was excited. He picked me up wearing a suit and carrying a bouquet of flowers. Very nice. My mother, who lives with me and was watching my children for the night, was impressed.
A new Relationship Matters (the official podcast of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships) has just been released. SofR's own Dr. Bjarne Holmes interviews Dr. Jeff Hall about his research on humor in relationships.
Have you heard the one about the relationship scientist who walks into a bar with a journal under one arm and a duck under the other? Never mind...it wasn’t very funny to begin with. If that's the only joke you know, will your lackluster sense of humor hurt you when it comes to attracting a romantic partner? It turns out that the use and importance of humor differs between men and women in attracting and selecting mates. So, did The Office get it right by having Jim play the office clown in order to attract Pam?