Southern Living Four Types of Humor

kali9/Getty Images

It turns out that humor styles can reveal a lot about a person.

Meghan Overdeep
March 7, 2018

There’s a reason not everyone finds the same things funny, after all, senses of humor are about as diverse as hair and eye color—one of the many factors that contributes to the depth and beauty of human relationships.

Varied as humor may be, scientists have managed to classify humor into four broad styles.  In 2003, psychologist Rod Martin broke down the four main types— affiliative, self-enhancing, aggressive, and self-defeating—in the Journal of Research in Personality.

Affiliative humor involves engaging in banter and cracking jokes to enhance one's relationships with others. Self-enhancing humor involves making yourself feel better by finding humor in your situation. Aggressive humor is marked by sarcasm, teasing, and ridicule at the expense of others, while self-defeating humor involves putting yourself down to gain approval from others.

WATCH Chonda Pierce: The Queen Of Clean:

Martin noted that humor styles can reveal a lot about an individual. Affiliative and self-enhancing humor are both linked to extroversion. Self-defeating humor, on the other hand, is linked to neuroticism.

"It's really the way we use humor that is most important," he said. "Not so much how funny you are, but how you use humor in advancing relationships or in detrimental ways."

According to Martin, everyone's sense of humor is a blend of these different humor styles, but most people tend to lean in one direction.

Curious where your funny bone falls? Martin published an online questionnaire you can take on The Cut.