If humour is subjective—which we absolutely know it is—then how do you even go about quantifying it? If you were wondering this while you clicked inquisitively to get here, here’s what you need to know.
No matter how difficult you think it is, psychologists have tried for decades to measure and analyse humour, just to be able to understand the human mind better. After all, your sense of humour says a lot about you. Even if you’re one of those people who believe they don’t have a single funny bone in your body—or believe someone you know doesn’t have one—you should know that there are enough types of humour to accommodate your type, no matter how subtle, dark or slapstick it is.
Now, if you’re wondering which type of humour you have, then read on to find out and get ready for some self-analysis.
Types of humour: Psychology saysIn 2003, psychologist Rod Martin became the first to quantify humour into four broad types. Based on these broad types, Martin and his colleagues devised a ‘humour styles questionnaire’ which can help people figure out what their type is. Their study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, has since been accepted by most psychologists worldwide as the standard for quantifying humour. The following are the four types of humour, according to Martin.
• Affiliative humour: The type of humour that generates a sense of happiness, fellowship, and well-being, affiliative humour has the capacity of bringing people together.
• Aggressive humour: Usually targeted towards other people, individuals, or groups, this is the type of humour that puts people at the end of it down and out. Often, people who join in the laughter generated by this type of humour are doing so to cover up discomfort.
• Self-enhancing humour: So, you slipped on a banana peel and turned it into a joke in a good-natured way? You have self-enhancing humour, which can often alleviate stress and may even be good for your self-esteem.
• Self-defeating humour: Making jokes about yourself aggressively, in order to make yourself look pitiable, is an unhealthy form of humour. What aggressive humour does to others, self-defeating humour does the same to the person who tells it.
Types of humour: There are moreBut while these four types of humour are more readily accepted by most psychologists, there are others who have tried to break it down further to make it easier to evaluate—and for the laywoman to comprehend. And this is nothing new! In 1974, psychologist Werner Lauer and his team came up with nine styles of humour: humour, self-irony, comic in a narrow sense, fun, wit, irony, satire, sarcasm, and cynicism. In 2003, another psychologist, Milner Davis, came up with an even more comprehensive list which also covered face/slapstick (low comedy), comedy of manners/wit (or high comedy), romantic/festive comedy (or sentimental comedy), ironic/parodic (or burlesque comedy), nonsense humour (or absurdist comedy), sick or disgust comedy, satire/satirical comedy, dark comedy (or existential comedy), and tragicomedy.
Similarly, a study published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2018 suggests there are eight styles of humour: fun, humour, nonsense, wit, irony, satire, sarcasm, and cynicism. The researchers behind this study identified 48 markers for their system of assessments, known popularly as the Comic Style Markers (CSM). Clearly, there are as many analyses of humour and its types as there are researchers working on this area of study.
Which type of humour do you have?It’s also quite evident that if you were to engage in an exercise to find out which type of humour you have, the one which divides your humour style into four broad types may not be the one you go for. After all, that one sounds more serious and one used as a tool by psychologists. Instead, the more comprehensive lists by other researchers are easier to understand and try out even among a group of friends. So, based on the most popular of those studies, here are the nine types of humour. Just read on and you might naturally know which one you have!
1. Physical: This type of humour uses physicality, and is often termed slapstick because it involves simple (yet funny) actions like people slipping, babies sucking on a lemon to make a weird face, or someone getting stuck on a door or fence.
2. Self-deprecating: Many women and comedians—and even memes—tend to go for this kind of humour, which involves making yourself out to be the butt of the joke. It’s like joking about the fact that you have an odd habit that people will find weird, but still laugh at along with you.
3. Surreal: Strange, nonsensical, bordering on the absurd—that’s how surreal humour is defined. Think Mr Bean or Monty Python, or the movie Barfi, and you’ll get what this type of humour is all about.
4. Improvisational: Witty, responsive and absolutely funny in the moment, people who engage in this type of humour are thought to be really smart. Some of the best comedians in the world are actually improve artists, which says a lot about this type and those who have it.
5. Wordplay: Another witty sort of humour, wordplay is often engages in by those who use puns, limericks and even memes to generate laughter. When done right, this type of humour can be very punny indeed.
6. Topical: This is the type of comedy everyone from John Oliver to Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon now engage in—humouroushumorous content created on the basis of real-life issues or current events. Obviously, this type tests the knowledge and understanding of the listener as much as it does of the person who makes the joke.
7. Observational: If there’s a type of comedy Jerry Seinfeld made his career on, it’s observational. Rather than making fun of special or current news, you take everydayevery day, ordinary things and bring out the inherent humour in them.
8. Bodily: Every teenager goes through a phase of engaging in bodily comedy, but some never grow out of it. This type of humour is based on bodily functions, like peeing, pooping, farting, and even sneezing.
9. Dark: Satire and all forms of humour that take a dark (or depressing) subject, and give it a funny—and often, very insightful—twist, is known as dark humour. This one can go, well, dark very quickly, and just isn’t for everyone to digest.
Which type of humour do you have, based on this list? Or would you rather go to a psychologist and fill out a questionnaire to find out more? Let us know in the comments!