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Children's humor types and psychosocial adjustment

Fox, Claire L. and Hunter, Simon C. and Jones, Siân E. (2016) Children's humor types and psychosocial adjustment. Personality and Individual Differences, 89. pp. 86-91. ISSN 0191-8869

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Abstract

Attempting to understand how humor styles relate to psychological adjustment by correlating these two constructs fails to address the emerging understanding that individuals use combinations of humor styles, and that different combinations may be differentially associated with psychosocial adjustment. Indeed humor types have been identified in adult samples (Galloway, 2010; Leist & Müller, 2013). The main aim of the study was to explore whether similar humor types are evident at a younger age and whether these types can be distinguished in terms of children’s psychological and social well-being. Participants were 1,234 adolescents (52% female) aged 11-13 years, drawn from six secondary schools in England. Self-reports of humor styles and psychosocial adjustment were collected at two time points, 6 months apart. A cluster analysis was performed using the child humor styles scores at Time 1. Four humor types were identified: ‘Interpersonal Humorists’ (high on aggressive and affiliative humor, low on self-defeating and self-enhancing humor), ‘Self-Defeaters’ (high self-defeating humor, low on the other three), ‘Humor Endorsers’ (high on all four humor styles), and ‘Adaptive Humorists’ (high on self-enhancing and affiliative humor, but low on aggressive and self-defeating humor). ‘Self-Defeaters’ scored highest in terms of maladjustment across all of the outcomes measured. Our analyses support the presence of distinctive humor types in childhood and indicate that these are related to psychosocial adjustment.