Definitions, Theories, and Measurement of Humor

  • Tabea ScheelEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Psychology book series (BRIEFSPSYCHOL)


This chapter provides an overview of conceptualizations of humor, the most prominent theories, and theories that may be a useful foundation for research on humor at work. Definitions of humor are manifold, ranging from a communicative activity with positive emotional reactions in perceivers to an individual trait (e.g., sense of humor, cheerfulness). Humor is seen as multidimensional and includes the abilities to produce, recognize, and appreciate humor and to use humor as a coping strategy. The three most prominent humor theories are the superiority, incongruity, and arousal-relief theories. We discuss the intra- and interpersonal function of humor in general, the function of humor at work, and humor measurement. Measures of (usually self-assessed) humor range from more trait-focused and internal perspectives to humor styles and humor in work contexts. A collection of humor scales and tests is presented in Appendix A.1.


Humor definitions Incongruence theory Arousal-relief theory Superiority theory Humor functions Humor styles 


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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Work and Organizational PsychologyFernUniversitaet in HagenHagenGermany

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