Humor in Teams: Interpersonal Functions of Humor
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Teams and groups are central in our lives. We work in teams and are confronted with teams in our private lives. In this chapter, we will describe the duality of humor in teams—that is, its capacity to unite and to divide. Four processes explain why humor impacts social outcomes in teams—affect-reinforcement, perceived similarity, self-disclosure, and hierarchical salience. A closer look at how laughter and humor developed in our hominid ancestors can deepen our understanding of interpersonal humor effects—laughter is an acoustic signal that the environment is safe and helps positive affect to spread among group members. Current research based on evolutionary theory investigates the spread of positive affect in work teams, the size of natural laughter groups and fake laughter. A micro-level look at specific humorous comments reflects the duality of humor as well. We close with a note of caution, future research ideas, and implications.
KeywordsHumor Team Work group Cohesion Effectiveness Evolution Duchenne laughter Affect Linguistic analysis Functionalist perspective
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