Humor and the Sense of Mastery

  • Herbert M. Lefcourt
  • Rod A. Martin


Although wit and tendentious humor have often been associated with feelings of hostility and combativeness, humor, in Freud’s later sense of the term, is more a reflection of a sense of ease and confidence in the ability to reduce stressors to manageable challenges. Humor, especially in the manifest form of laughter, has often been said to indicate a sense of well-being, confidence, and safety. Hayworth (1928), for example, contended that:

those who are obsessed by fears or who suffer from inferiority complexes do not laugh easily. The explanation is that if the organism is in an aggressive, conquering attitude it will exult with a feeling of safety over threatened obstructions and will communicate this to the rest of the group through the conditioned response of laughter, (p. 373)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Herbert M. Lefcourt
    • 1
  • Rod A. Martin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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