Making of an In-Joke: Humor Appreciation as an Igratiation Strategy Following Ostracism
Humans have a fundamental need to belong, and when thwarted, engage in behaviors to facilitate reaffiliation. Humor, a uniquely human trait, evolved as a means of facilitating rapport between individuals and fostering stronger interpersonal bonds through the elicitation of positive affect and activation of reward centers in the brain. We predicted that those experiencing acute ostracism would rate others’ attempts at humor (i.e., jokes) as funnier than those experiencing social inclusion, particularly low-quality jokes, as a means of ingratiating themselves to new opportunities for affiliation. Men and women were either included or ostracized via Cyberball and rated male and female targets’ funniness and likeability, half of which were paired with a funny joke and the other half an unfunny joke. Excluded men rated women as funnier than did included men, even when women’s jokes were categorically unfunny. Collectively, these results suggest that humor appreciation may be a means of facilitating social affiliation following rejection; however, this effect seems specific to men.
Evolutionary Psychological Science
Sacco, D. F.,
May, H. D.,
(2017). Making of an In-Joke: Humor Appreciation as an Igratiation Strategy Following Ostracism. Evolutionary Psychological Science, 4, 202-211.
Available at: https://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/16797