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10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Humor

Humor is our ability to see things as funny. We all interpret humor differently and we all have our own senses of humor. A sense of humor determines our personal likes as to what we feel is funny or not. Humor provides us with entertainment in small and large scales. It also provides comfort in certain situations and can be used as a coping mechanism. Humor can also be considered an essential part of our lives. It helps us create bonds in social settings, let out laughter, release any anger or tension, and so much more. It’s pretty clear to see that humor is controlled by our inner psychology. Let’s dig a little deeper though, shall we? Here are 10 things to know about the psychology of humor!


What we find funny says a lot about who we are. 

We all laugh at different things! That’s just a part of who we are. But why we find certain things funny and other are totally opposite says a lot about who we are. There are many different styles of humor and what’s funny to us may not be funny to the person sitting next to us. This can be due to many factors. However, they are most commonly due to a reflection of:

  • age
  • gender
  • political orientation
  • culture
  • childhood upbringing 


Our own sense of humor reveals a lot about us too.

As we discussed above, we all laugh at different things depending on what we find funny. The same goes for our own sense of humor and the way we talk. The way we joke and poke fun depicts a fair image of who we are internally. It holds a mirror up to our funny side and why it exists. It shows the way we see ourselves, the way we see other people, our anxieties, our issues, and so much more. Cracking jokes and having a sense of humor can be a positive trait and allow us to see things in a lighter way. 

Laugher is good for us! 

It’s not mind blowing to learn that laughter is good for us. We’ve all felt it. Giggling bring us pleasure, puts a smile on our face, and relieves our stress. But what is behind that? Humor serves many purposes aside from just making us laugh. 

Using humor and being able to laugh can soften an emotional hit. It can make a negative situation feel more positive. It can bring people together and make them feel closer. It can create space for a new perspective and outlook. Humor can also have social pros. This can include making a situation feel more comfortable and less intense as well as helping to determine who is like-minded in a group setting. 

We find our sense of humor from many sources.

While we are not born with a funny bone, we do develop our own sense of humor as grow up. Laughing and finding silly things funny starts to show up in babies pretty early on. Whether it’s them reacting to a silly face, their dog licking them, or them throwing their toys around…they love to laugh! However, jokes, sarcasm, tones, language all come a bit later. Once a child develops some crucial cognitive skills, they can communicate and understand jokes and start to develop their own sense of humor. And just like many of our personality traits, this is dependent on the factors around us. This includes:

  • siblings
  • parents
  • friends at school
  • tv shows
  • movies
  • radio stations
  • books.

There are common trends that we all tend to find funny.

Similar to how we all have our own sense of dialect and humor, we all laugh at different things. Some people hate jokes. Some people love sarcasm. Some people love making others uncomfortable. The list goes on and on. However, we’re not that different at the base level. What makes something funny? What is sure to get a giggle out of someone?

There are some key staples to humor when it’s broken down. There are many theories behind why certain topics can make anyone laugh. These topics include:

  • competition
  • the misfortune of others
  • a dangerous situation but no one actually gets hurt
  • an unexpected outcome
  • a joke that is not appropriate but ultimately harmless.

All of these staples to a good joke let us release tension and some well deserved laughs. 

Humor can create tension or distance.

Have you ever been in a group where someone makes a joke that totally ruins the mood? It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt…

Jokes, sarcasm, funny banter, and poking fun can be beneficial to our happiness for many reasons. They can also very easily cross a line. Humor can easily make someone uncomfortable, Some humor makes people feel disrespected. When this happens, humor can create tension or distance. While this may be with a comedian at a stand up routine or someone’s life partner…it’s always a bit awkward! Jokes are great and provide an air of lightness to our lives but it may be best to not get too personal. 


Women tend to prefer men with a sense of humor. 

Humor is a trait that many women look for in a romantic partner. Women tend to prefer a man (or a woman) who makes them laugh. Studies have shown that when a man and woman first meet and the man attempts to be funny and it works, it is far more likely to turn into a romantic dynamic! Studies have also shown that women prioritize this trait while looking for a partner while men do not tend to care as much. For women, this may be because humor is an indication of a person’s intelligence and confidence. This may also be because of the physical effects of laughter. We flex our face muscles and our blood pressure lower. It ultimately creates a happier and more positive mood. 

Some people have more of a sense of humor than others.

A sense of humor is a representation of someone’s psychological health. We experience humor at all ages, in all cultures, in all different settings. It’s an accurate way to analyze human behavior. In some cases, humor is viewed in a negative way. In other cases, a sense of humor in a strong character trait. When a sense of humor is viewed as negative it is likely being used as a defense mechanism, a way to cover up how someone is truly feeling. When a sense of humor is being analyzed as a positive personality and character trait, it is showing someone’s strengths. Someone with a sense of humor may make people around them feel good and help them connect with others. When someone is on the positive side of this spectrum, they are typically:

  • strong
  • confident
  • optimistic
  • emotionally intelligent. 

Humor in close relationships can be good and bad.

Part of being close with someone is feeling happy, having fun, and enjoying laughs together. When we are comfortable with someone, we can let our guard down and truly show our senses of humor and what makes us giggle. 

However, as mentioned earlier, sometimes humor crosses a line. When humor hurts someone’s feeling and makes them feel uncomfortable, it can create tension. When it comes to close relationships, whether they are romantic or platonic, this line may be walked on more often than not. When we are close with someone, we may know them just as well as we know ourselves. This can lead to taking advantage of knowing someone’s insecurities and struggles. When these become the butt of a joke, we may cross a line without realizing it. 

It is possible to become “funnier.”

Sometimes people wonder if they have a good sense of humor.  If someone hasn’t always been known as the funny one, they may think it will never be in the cards for them. However, it is totally possible to learn how to be funnier! There are some tricks and tips to learning how to be funnier. These include learning and practicing telling jokes to people, knowing that not all jokes will stick, and studying different comedians. And as we’ve mentioned, there are core character traits that tend to make people funnier – confidence, positivity, etc. Working these traits along with these tips could be the secret recipe. 

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