People Who Laugh At Themselves May Be Happier Than The Rest

“When you can laugh at yourself, no one can ever make a fool of you- Joan Rivers”

The words of the versatile comic and entertainer Joan Rivers sums up the importance of self-deprecating humor. Many consider themselves their worst critics and can be too hard on themselves at times. However, researchers are of the view that those who are often the butt of their own jokes might have one more reason to have a good laugh!

A study published in the journal, Personality and Individual Differences claimed that those who indulge in self-deprecating jokes had a heightened control over feelings of anger or resentment. They were happier and more socially adjusted than most people.

Influence Of Self-Deprecating Humor On Happiness

Humor is one of the best coping mechanisms for stress. Adaptive humor is a type of humor that’s beneficial for one’s psychological well-being. It has been proven to have an enhancing effect on self-esteem and happiness.

Humor can be both adaptive and maladaptive. Adaptive humor includes affiliative humor, which involves telling jokes about things that everyone might find amusing funny, and self-enhancing humor wherein an individual uses personal failures or bad experiences as the subject of jokes.

On the other hand, maladaptive humor includes aggressive humor, which involves insulting or being rude to others, and self-defeating humor, wherein humor is used in a “poor me” manner to put oneself down.

Past studies have indicated that individuals who displayed adaptive humor styles in their conversations had a more positive outlook with a higher self-esteem and sense of well-being. On the other hand, those who indulge in maladaptive humor were found to have negative effects on their well-being.

The Study

The current study was conducted in Spain by researchers from the Mind, Brain and Behaviour Research Centre (CIMCYC) to analyze the relationship between the use of humor and anger management.

About 1068 adults aged 18–65 were recruited for the study. Psychometric analysis was carried out to study the humor of participants using the international reference scale employed for assessing humor styles, known as the ‘Humor Styles Questionnaire. It was adapted to the Spanish environment and the participants were divided into 5 sample types.

In Samples 1, 3 and 4, participants were assessed in small groups in different public spaces and university centers. The data from Samples 2 and 5 were collected using an online questionnaire. Sample 1 consisted of 300 adults of which 159 were females while 141 were males, around the age of 29 years. Sample 2 was made up of 261 adults of which 153 females, while 108 were males with ages between 18 and 65.

Sample 3 had 238 undergraduate students of which 126 were females, while 112 were males, within 18–50 years. Sample 4 was made up of 105 undergraduate students of which 55 were females, while 50 were males between the ages of 18–39 years. Sample 5 included about 164 adult participants of which 87 were females, while 77 were males with an average age of 28 years.

Significant Results From The Study

  • A positive relationship was found between self-defeating humor and positive humor styles in all the studies.
  • Older participants displayed lesser affiliative and aggressive humor styles.
  • Scores in aggressive humor were higher among male participants in comparison to female participants.
  • Contrary to past studies, the frequent use of self-defeating humor was found to have a positive effect on happiness.
  • People who tend to use aggressive or self-defeating humor managed anger or rage poorly.
  • Those who used self-defeating humor had better control over rage and the ability to suppress feelings of anger.

According to the research team,

“Our data revealed that humor could be a relevant component for predicting (or accounting for) the way in which individuals handle angry feelings or episodes. It entails a further evidence of the therapeutic potential of humor for psychological interventions.”

The results of the study contradict the popular belief that those crack self-deprecating jokes have low self-esteem or are prone to depression. In fact, they might be people who are pretty well-adjusted to their life and more emotionally secure than most. Whenever life doesn’t happen the way you plan, crack yourself up with a laugh about it. As every tragedy has some amount of comedy preserved in it