Humor Type Can Alter Work Environment

By: Marie Donlon

It is generally accepted that humor in the workplace is linked directly to employee happiness. However, according to research from Murray State University, the type of workplace humor is actually the driver of workplace happiness.

Led by Amanda Joyce, an assistant professor of psychology at Murray State University, the research team examined what brands of humor led to higher happiness levels in the workplace.

“By trade I am a developmental psychologist, and most of my research is in the area of childhood cognitive development,” Joyce said. “But this is a project that I did with a former mentor, and he was really interested in humor within the workplace. He was interested in developing a scale of what humor looks like. So we developed that scale together and tested it out on some students who were working at least 15 hours a week.”

As such, Joyce and her team determined that certain brands of humor had a greater impact on the type of workplace environment.

“If you have more positive humor, it tends to contribute to a positive working environment; so if you are happy, joking around and not tearing each other down, then you are more likely to enjoy your job. If your supervisor supports that, then you are also more likely to enjoy and stay committed to your job,” Joyce said. “If you tend to degrade others through your humor, it tends to have the opposite effect. So if you are constantly tearing people to shreds, then you are less committed to your job and tend to not like your job as much.”