Science Proves Hostile Humor Associated with Lowering Happiness in Life
“Darn all of those PC rules. You just can’t tell a good joke anymore.”
Science is now discovering that the insistence on political correctness is actually good for you. It was even for the people who were frustrated that they couldn’t tell mean jokes anymore.
As the researchers put it, “Hostile humor is negatively associated with measures of self-esteem and well-being.” As I put it, the people who tell mean jokes don’t feel good about themselves in the first place.
Hostile humor has a tendency to backfire.
There you are telling a great joke about how stupid blonds are, when a blond rocket scientist creeps up behind you. “Um, no ma’am. I would rather not have you aim your next rocket up my —“Well, anyway, you get the picture.
But self-disparaging humor is still okay, right? Right? Can’t I make fun of pigmentally deficient Caucasians if I am one myself?
In my humble opinion, it depends…
I was recently at a networking meeting enjoying the snacks and chatting with two other women, we’ll call Bea and Emmy.
With a cookie and a slim slice of cheese cake on her plate, Bea said, “God I have no self-control. I know this is going to go directly to my hips. I’m already spilling over the sides of my chair.”
Emmy and I sat in uncomfortable silence. Emmy’s hips were wider than Bea’s, and I was once wider than either of them. Bea only meant to criticize herself, but by rejecting herself for a characteristic that we all shared, she insulted us all.
Remember what Maya Angelou said so eloquently? “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Psychologists describe self-defeating humor thus:
Amusing others by making fun of your own weakness as a way to hide negative feelings. I’d say those negative feelings weren’t hidden all that well.
In the study self-defeating humor was correlated with low self-esteem, depression and anxiety in the person that uses it.
Does that mean that you can’t make jokes about a human characteristic that someone else might have?
Not at all. But the focus needs to be on acceptance. As in, “I love cheese cake. It’s helping me develop these fine, childbearing hips.” Or “Next time I go dancing, I’m going to have a real booty to shake!”
Garrison Keillor said, “Fat is what makes the body comfortable. Fat makes it possible for two people to get very, very close and not hurt each other.” I think he went on to say something about fat making it possible for people to hug without clanking.
But the scientific research shows something else. Not only is positive humor associated with happy people, the research also shows that using positive humor can help people feel better, happier, and more optimistic.
So how about those pigmentally deficient Caucasians? Can we make fun of them now?
Nope, you cannot make fun of them. But you can make fun of us. As in: it is we pigmentally deficient Caucasians who keep the sun block industry afloat. And it is our pale butts that inspired that poetically descriptive verb “to moon.”
Crew L jokes don’t make you happy. But positive jokes do.