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Self-deprecating humour linked to greater psychological wellbeing, study finds

Frequent use of self-deprecating humour has been linked to a better overall psychological wellbeing, a study has discovered.

When you hear someone making fun of themselves, you would usually assume that they’re doing so to conceal their insecurities. 

However, a recent study has found that the opposite may be the case; that making yourself the butt of your jokes actually demonstrates greater levels of happiness and self-assurance.

University of Granada researchers from the Mind, Brain and Behaviour Research Centre (CIMCYC) decided to explore different kinds of humour to determine whether a person’s comedic streak is connected to the way in which they cope with anger.

The study, which was published in journal Personality and Individual Differences, assessed 1,068 Spanish adults aged between 18 and 65 years old across five different studies.

They analysed their types of humour using the Spanish version of the Humour Styles Questionnaire, a 32-item self-report inventory first developed in 2003 by Rod Martin and Patricia Doris.

One of the most defining outcomes of the study was the acknowledgement that the use of self-deprecating humour doesn’t necessarily have negative connotations, as previously thought. 

“In particular, we have observed that a greater tendency to employ self-defeating humour is indicative of high scores in psychological wellbeing dimensions such as happiness and, to a lesser extent, sociability,” said Jorge Torres Marín, co-author of the study.

Their findings illustrated how other forms of humour are particularly beneficial in various contexts.

Affiliative humour, which involves telling jokes that the majority of people would find funny, is helpful at strengthening social relationships.

The use of self-enhancing humour allows people to overcome unpleasant situations by allowing them to find the humour and silver lining in any circumstance.

However, while self-deprecating humour may have its advantages, the researchers also noted that it may be indicative of suppressed anger. 

“[The] results suggest that humour, even when presented as benign or well-intentioned, can also represent a strategy for masking negative intentions,” said co-author Ginés Navarro-Carrillo.

The researchers believe that more studies are needed in order to analyse the cultural differences of humour.

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