Humor Patterns and Personality Dimensions

Humor is a phenomenon that affects the relations people establish with others and can serve as a coping mechanism and form of aggression. According to Martin et al. (2003), humor relates to psychology and involves both negative and positive functioning. There are four humor styles affiliative, self-enhancing, aggressive, and self-defeating humor (Mendiburo-Seguel et al., 2015). Affiliative humor is related to funny stories or telling jokes, to improve relationships and entertain, and to wish to relate to others. When people use this type of humor, they want to make sure that the situation is not serious and rather funny. Self-enhancing humor refers to people who tend to encourage themselves by looking at life humorously. It enables people to maintain a positive view of unfavorable situations and reduce negative emotions. When people use aggressive humor, they have little control over the impact on others. Thus, it is associated with hostility and aggression. Self-defeating humor is used when people want to hide negative feelings inside, avoiding their rejected aspects. There are also five personality dimensions: agreeableness, extraversion/introversion, openness to experience, neuroticism, and conscientiousness (McCrae & Costa, 2010). The purpose of this research was to find whether there is a correlation between humor patterns and personality dimensions.

There are numerous researches done on the topic of the relationship between personality types and humor styles. In the study by Saroglou et al. (2002), undergraduate psychology students were asked to complete humor-style questionnaires. It was found that there is a strong correlation between extraversion and almost all humor styles except self-defeating humor. Moreover, there was an association between self-enhancing humor style and positive personality patterns such as agreeableness and openness. Another research by Deaner & McConatha (1993) examines the correlation between humor and depression, and between personality traits in general. The results of their study revealed that there was no notable correlation between depression and amusement. They explain it by saying that a depression score with a wider range was needed. In other words, individuals with a wide range of depressive disorders had to be included to make the results more accurate. This has to be considered when constructing methods for this research. Vernon et al. (2008) in their study also investigated the relationship between personalities and humor styles. The results were similar to those in the research by Saroglou et al. (2002). The difference was that Vernon et al. (2008) invited monozygotic twins so that it was possible to examine the correlation not only phenotypically but also from genetics. It was found that humor patterns positively related to well-being are attributed to genetic factors, while humor patterns that are associated negatively with well-being are due to environmental factors.

The study will examine the humor styles and personality types, and how they are correlated with each other. It will also discuss the role of humor in overall well-being and mental health. There is an association between positive humor styles such as self-enhancing and affiliative humor and positive personality dimensions such as agreeableness and openness. To understand the psychology of the individual, specialists refer to humor patterns that are observed in different personality types. It was suggested that outgoing or extroverted people would mostly use humor as a way to communicate and build relationships, while reserved or aggressive people would use it as a tool for self-defense. Moreover, understanding this correlation can be useful for treating or analyzing psychological diseases such as depression.


Deaner, S. L., & McConatha, J. T. (1993). The relation of humor to depression and personality. Psychological Reports, 72(3), 755–763.

Martin, R. A., Puhlik-Doris, P., Larsen, G., Gray, J., & Weir, K. (2003). Individual differences in uses of humor and their relation to psychological well-being: Development of the Humor Styles Questionnaire. Journal of Research in Personality, 37(1), 48–75.

McCrae, R. & Costa, P. (2010). The Five-Factor Theory of Personality. In P. John, R. Robins, & L. Pervin (Eds.). Handbook of personality: Theory and research (pp. 159–181). Guilford.

Mendiburo-Seguel, A., Paez, D., Martinez-Sanchez, F. (2015). Humor styles and personality: A meta- analysis of the relation between humor styles and the big five personality traits. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 56, 335-340.

Saroglou, V., & Scariot, C. (2002). Humor Styles Questionnaire: personality and educational correlates in Belgian high school and college students. European Journal of Personality, 16(1), 43–54.

Vernon, P. A., Martin, R. A., Schermer, J. A., & Mackie, A. (2008). A behavioral genetic investigation of humor styles and their correlations with the Big-5 personality dimensions. Personality and Individual Differences, 44(5), 1116– 1125.

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PsychologyWriting. "Humor Patterns and Personality Dimensions." January 25, 2022.