Differential Effects of Self-Esteem and Interpersonal Competence on Humour Styles

Bernadette McCosker, Carmen Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


In contrast to an early implicit 'facilitative hypothesis' of humor, a revised specificity hypothesis predicts that the benefits of humor depend on the style of humor used. Information on predictors of specific humor styles will, in turn, enhance the knowledge of predictors on wellbeing. We considered the extent to which interpersonal competence and self-esteem independently predicted humor styles, while controlling for the contributions of age and gender. Participants (N=201) aged18-63 completed the The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Inventory The Interpersonal Competence Questionnaire, and the Humour Styles Questionnaire, as well as demographic questions. Humor styles, interpersonal competence, and self-esteem, were related in expected and unexpected way to humor styles. High self-esteem was associated with higher use of affiliative, aggressive and self-enhancing, but lower use of self-defeating humor. High interpersonal competence predicted greater affiliative humor use, and low interpersonal competence predicted greater aggressive humor use. Further analyses showed that initiation-competence predicted affiliative humor (positively) whereas both initiation-competence (positively) and conflict management competence (negatively) predicted aggressive humor. The findings that self-esteem and initiation competence can contribute to use of aggressive humor offers unexpected information on predictors of this potentially harmful humor style. Readiness to initiate humorous interactions is not sufficient to predict wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology Research and Behavior Management
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


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