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University of Silesia in Katowice

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Humour in long-term romantic relationships explored by Łukasz Jach, PhD

29.08.2022 - 08:39 update 05.09.2022 - 12:27
Editors: violettakulik

The article “Do they fit together like the Joker and Harley Quinn?: Joking, laughing, humor styles, and dyadic adjustment among people in long-term romantic relationships” was published in a magazine Personality and Individual Differences. Among its authors we can find researchers from the University of Silesia: Łukasz Jach, PhD; and Dominika Kubicius, MA, a recent graduate of Psychology. The research was conducted in collaboration with Prof. Peter K. Jonason (University of Padova and Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw).

The article presents the results of research on the manifestations and functions of joking and humour among men and women who are in long-term romantic relationships with each other. Łukasz Jach, PhD, and his associates collected data from 149 heterosexual couples on the frequency of jokes, laughing at partner’s jokes, evaaluated quality of one’s own jokes and partner’s jokes, as well as styles of humour and sense of compatibility in a relationship. It turned out that in long-term relationships, men produce more jokes than women. Women who took part in the study also noticed that their partners joked more often than they did themselves. Both men and women claimed that they laughed at the jokes of their partners more often than their partners laughed at their jokes. Men rated the quality of their own jokes higher than women did. What is more, men rate their jokes as funnier than the jokes of their partners.

The more injurious, or set to show one’s own weaknesses and lapses was the type of humour of one of the partners, the higher was the other partner’s level of the same style of humour. The style focused on building positive relationships with other people and the style focused on better coping with everyday challenges and problems did not show similar tendencies. Partners in long-term relationships thus seem to be the most similar in terms of preferring more ironic and blunt forms of humour on the one hand, and those that show the joking person as less resourceful, requiring more help or care on the other.

On the other hand, both one’s own and partners’ aggressive patterns were a negative indicator of the level of compatibility in a relationship. The use of self-defeating humour was also a negative predictor in this case. The factors associated with a higher sense of compatibility include the frequency of laughing at the partner’s jokes, the frequency of noticing such laughter by the partner, and the use of affiliative, self-enhancing humour. People who were more satisfied with their relationships more often appreciated the jokes of their partners.

So far, most of the research on the function of humour in relationships has focused on the early stages of the romantic relationship. The research by Jach, PhD, and his colleagues has shown that the dynamics of the phenomena related to humour in long-term relationships differs from that in the earlier stages. For example, while at the stage of relationship formation, men tend to be proactive in joking and women to react to their partners’ jokes and assess their quality, in long-term relationships, men and women seem to be equally eager to laugh at their partners’ jokes. From a different perspective, men continue to joke more, which is helped by, perhaps, overestimating the quality of their own jokes…

The conducted research is in line with the interests of Łukasz Jach, PhD, who has been interested in issues in the field of evolutionary psychology for many years, including sexual differences in the production of humorous content and responding to it. Łukasz Jach, PhD, conducts lectures on evolutionary psychology and MA seminars on the psychology of humour at the Psychology degree programme. He is also an author of a popular science book devoted to the topic of humour and laughing “Od ucha do ucha. Homo sapiens się śmieje” (From ear to ear. Homo sapiens laughs) (Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 2021, ZROZUM series).

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