How Do You Use Humor?

by Honolulu Mother

Here’s a humor quiz from New York Magazine that looks not at whether you have a sense of humor (we all do, of *course*), but instead how you use humor in interacting with others:

Test Yourself: Psychologists Created a Quiz to Define Your Sense of Humor

According to the article accompanying the quiz,

The HSQ divides humor into four main styles: Affiliative, Self-Enhancing, Aggressive, and Self-Defeating. Affiliative humor means cracking jokes, engaging in banter, and otherwise using humor to make others like us. Self-enhancing humor is an optimistic, coping humor, characterized by the ability to laugh at yourself or at the absurdity of a situation and feel better as a result. Aggressive humor is characterized by sarcasm, teasing, criticism, and ridicule. Self-defeating humor is attempting to get others to like us by putting ourselves down.

As the article notes, humor isn’t an unqualified good, as it can be used to positive or negative ends. I took the quiz and came out as primarily affiliative, which didn’t surprise me. Do any Totebaggers find themselves surprised by a quiz result? And, does the analysis of humor styles correspond with your observations generally?


51 thoughts on “How Do You Use Humor?

  1. I’m a self-enhancer. What I figured. To me there’s some humor to be found in almost any situation.

  2. Self-enhancing result. I would say that is accurate.

    On a tangent, one early career job interview asked me about my sense of humor and how I would define it. It was not a question I anticipated. Found out later that a recently terminated employee had an agressive style that had negatively affected the group. While I am not sure someone with that sense of humor would say so in an interview, I found it interesting that management was able to identify it as a problem.

  3. Using humor can be a good way to get a flight attendant or gate agent to wink at your good buying two tickets for one kid, and none for the other.

  4. I got affilative, which I didn’t expect, and self-enhancing. Usually the things I say that people laugh at most are observations which may or may not be appropriate, said as observations and interpreted as zingers/comebacks. I didn’t use those things in answering the quiz, just things I intend to be funny (which get fewer laughs). My son and I use humor with each other a lot. I do it to soften correction I give him, often in ways that don’t sound like correction “omg, imagine if I sneeze so hard I knock that cup (full olive oil) onto the floor. We could go skating on the oil!” He responds by laughing and moving the cup away from the edge of the counter. I want to have him do this quiz. We have been talking lately about how he uses humor, such as to stall for time when he can’t answer a question, and the ways others, including teachers, interpret his use of humor. Two of his first three sentences were jokes.

  5. Mostly affiliative.

    The chief flaw in my sense of humor is I tell jokes that only 2 people in the world get. There are funny but you have to have my vast knowledge of: random facts, minutia and trivia.

  6. Love me some humor. I joke with everyone, all the time. I got affiliative which seems to fit with what I’d guess. Rhett – I have that problem sometimes. How do they not get my subtle allusion to Season 2, Episode 4 of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis?

  7. Self-enhancing for me. I agree particularly with the statements about using humor to cope with unpleasant situations. Sometimes just retelling the story in my head (with the necessary embellishments), even while a situation is still happening, gets me through. I will say that laughing with close friends or family is my favorite thing.

    I had an utterly humorous manager once who actually put in my review “inappropriate use of humor in the workplace”. She cited a specific example when I joked with another manager who she had introduced me to and was weirdly possessive of. She claimed I offended him (and I never use offensive humor!). What she didn’t know was that he had called me and asked me to join his team. I suggested that we call him together right there during the review so we could discuss it with him, but she refused. So now I am extremely careful about judging other people’s sense of humor.

    On the aggressive side, I can hear my dad’s voice in my head saying that jokes at someone’s expense are never funny, so I have never been that way. Although, I can be as snarky as the next guy in private with my friends or my daughter.

    I will say that I develop an instant fondness for people who exhibit my sense of humor. When I discuss things in this blog with family, I refer to Rhett and RMS by their humor.

    As an introvert, I always joke quietly with my close friends. In my sorority days, i had one friend who used to repeat what I said out loud to the larger group. People would tell me that I was so lucky to get to sit by her because she’s so funny.

  8. @MBT – I got dinged for being hilarious in staff meetings once too. Killjoys!

  9. The questions didn’t make sense to me and mainly seemed to repeat themselves over and over. I got affiliative, but I don’t think that describes my sense of humor at all. I tend towards witty humor rather than ha-ha jokes. Oscar Wilde is more my style than Charlie Chaplin. I hate stand up comedy but love Monty Python. So what kind of sense of humor is that?

  10. I got mostly self-enhancing, which seems about right. I am not skilled in telling jokes or being funny, so I don’t expect that I use humor to make other people like me — the affiliative category.

  11. Mooshi, read the intro at the link. They tried testing for different types of humor, found it didn’t tell them much, so this takes a different route and looks at how you use whatever kind of humor you like.

  12. Fred, everyone’s in the other thread arguing about the AHCA, which is perhaps not the ideal topic to put us all in a light-hearted and humorous mood.

  13. I went to other thread for the first time since October to read today’s comments. Tough crowd over there.

    I am trying to motivate to go to the gym. I didn’t have a chance to go earlier today because I had a meeting in the city, and it was pouring here for several hours. The roads are terrible due to a lot of flooding.

  14. Self-enhancing, with which I generally agree, but I use humor differently depending on who I’m with.

    I can be snarky, which would fall into the Aggressive category, but I think that’s largely limited to people I don’t like or with whom I’m angry.

  15. OK, another case of multiple ways to read something:

    “Affiliative humor means cracking jokes, engaging in banter, and otherwise using humor to make others like us.”

    When I first read this, I thought it meant using humor to change others to make them more similar to us. On second reading, I realized the author probably meant “like” as in the opposite of, “dislike.” Or “like” in the Sally Field context.

  16. From the quiz:

    “Sometimes I think of something that is so funny that I can’t stop myself from saying it, even if it is not appropriate for the situation.”

    That’s me in this forum.

  17. I often find humor in reading unintended meanings into what others have written. Laughing makes me feel better, thus I view this ability as a blessing.

  18. DD, yes, but I was disappointed that I could not use humor to make others more like me.

    I think I’d rather be able to make others be more like me than to make them like me more.

  19. When I first read this, I thought it meant using humor to change others to make them more similar to us.

    It can be a very effective form of persuasion, especially over the long term.

  20. the author probably meant “like” as in the opposite of, “dislike.”
    as the first half of the sentence indicates.

    Making jokes here is tough, because it’s difficult to survey the “room”. You can’t always tell someone’s mood or attitude from their comments (people here sometimes seem to think I feel most strongly about things I toss off flippantly) and the people who made the most recent comments might not be online when you make yours anyway. In a face to face conversation, you’d know when humor might be appreciated, or could be read as irritating static. That’s not the case online.

  21. I guess I missed a bunch of interesting posts.

    Anyway, thought I would ask this here. Does anyone know which brand vitamins are better? I was doing some research and the ones we take- the ones from Costco etc might not be the ones with best potency. These usually are the generic Costco or Natures brands. Specifically I am looking for good vitamin tablets for adults and well as seniors.

  22. What’s more, we found that store brands did just as well in our tests as national brands, at a lower price. The biggest winner: Costco’s Kirkland Signature, whose regular, “mature,” and children’s multis cost a nickel or less a day.

  23. I’ve never seen vitamins for teens, but given how much their bodies are changing, don’t they have different needs than adults, kids, and elderly?

  24. I’ve never seen vitamins for teens, but given how much their bodies are changing, don’t they have different needs than adults, kids, and elderly?

    You need to sell that idea to the vitamin companies for a percentage of gross sales and then retire on the profits.

  25. “I often find humor in reading unintended meanings into what others have written.”

    I vote Finn for Captain Obvious Award for the week. ;)

  26. But do you mean

    I vote Finn for (Captain Obvious Award for the week).


    I vote (Finn for Captain Obvious Award) for the week.

  27. What is the polar opposite of Captain Opposite? I often don’t know if Finn is joking or actually doesn’t understand what’s meant. I feel like I need a dsclaimer/warning, like the way some people write “political” before certain posts on Facebook.

  28. Just curious – what is the reputation of Latin School of Chicago ? It seems there are a bunch of private schools there and do many go to HSS or is it mostly SLACs ? I got the impression that SLACs were more popular among the students.

  29. “Just curious – what is the reputation of Latin School of Chicago”

    It is one of the most exclusive private schools in the city. PK-12. I would say Latin and Parker serve the most wealthy crowd in Chicago while Chicago Lab School (where the Obama girls went before DC) is more Totebaggy even though that are all expensive and somewhat difficult to get into without connections.

    As for what schools the grads go to – I don’t know. But yeah – some of the alums I know went to SLAC. Probably not tons at UIUC or even Michigan.

  30. A lot of the other private high schools here are either Catholic (varying quality with some very good and some mediocre), or very new and/or small.

  31. Finn- saw this article title and summary and thought of you:
    Violence in Chicago: Highlights from a Times Event. Several local leaders spoke on Wednesday about efforts to reduce the bloodshed at an event arranged by Times and the University of Chicago Crime Lab.

    Tough event! Wonder they still have any attendees!

    Adding “in Chicago” after “bloodshed” would have clarified the meaning.

  32. Got affiliative but expected self-enhancing.

    I have had post-meeting regret at work where I think, “Mmmm, I shouldn’t have said that” because I do not want to appear immature or offend anyone. At home with friends I will let anything fly.

    I lost my dad when I was 14 and remember clearly losing my sense of humor for a long time. I had always been the funny friend in my group but just couldn’t seem to muster it back for years. Shudder.

  33. Public Service Announcement: If you are thinking about buying a Philip Wake-Up alarm clock (the kind that slowly brightens over the course of half an hour and then plays little chimes) — don’t do it. I got one in January of 2014, the light burned out, and it’s not replaceable. So I spent $60 on an alarm clock that only worked for 2.5 years. A $10 regular alarm clock from Target would work for 20 years.

    Moreover, for $3.99 there’s an app that turns your tablet or phone into the same device. Tried it last night and it worked great.

  34. Sorry for the URL appearing randomly in my post at the top.

  35. After a firm conversation with Philips on the phone, they are sending me a new unit, but they really didn’t want to. Outside of warranty. But for $60 I expect my alarm clock to last longer than 2.5 years.

  36. “What is the polar opposite of Captain Opposite?”

    Civilian Similar?

  37. A $10 regular alarm clock from Target would work for 20 years.

    I’m still using the clock radio I had in HS, so over 30 years and still going strong.

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