Humor styles and their relationship to explicit and implicit self-esteem

Stefan Stieger, Anton K. Formann, Christoph Burger

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

72 Citations (Scopus)


Humor is an essential part of our life and an important means to cope with stressful life events. Recent research established that humor is a multi-faceted construct that includes both adaptive and maladaptive humor styles. Whereas self-enhancing and affiliative humor styles seem to be beneficial, aggressive and self-defeating humor styles may be less beneficial or even detrimental to mental health. Self-defeating humor correlates positively with loneliness, shyness, depression, and negatively with explicit (i.e., conscious, deliberate) self-esteem. Furthermore, research has found that individuals possessing " damaged" self-esteem (i.e., a self-esteem discrepancy where individuals exhibit low explicit but high implicit [i.e., unconscious, automatic] self-esteem) have very similar characteristics as individuals using self-defeating humor. We therefore theorized that there is an association between damaged self-esteem and self-defeating humor, which we indeed found. Possible mechanisms and explanations for this link are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-750
Number of pages4
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


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