• Broadening Humor: Comic Styles Differentially Tap into Temperament, Character, and Ability

      Ruch, Willibald; Heintz, Sonja; Platt, Tracey; Wagner, Lisa; Proyer, René T. (Frontiers in Psychology, 2018-01-18)
      The present study introduces eight comic styles (i.e., fun, humor, nonsense, wit, irony, satire, sarcasm, and cynicism) and examines the validity of a set of 48 marker items for their assessment, the Comic Style Markers (CSM). These styles were originally developed to describe literary work and are used here to describe individual differences. Study 1 examines whether the eight styles can be distinguished empirically, in self- and other-reports, and in two languages. In different samples of altogether more than 1500 adult participants, the CSM was developed and evaluated with respect to internal consistency, homogeneity, test–retest reliability, factorial validity, and construct and criterion validity. Internal consistency was sufficiently high, and the median test-retest reliability over a period of 1–2 weeks was 0.86 (N = 148). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses showed that the eight styles could be distinguished in both English- (N = 303) and German-speaking samples (N = 1018 and 368). Comparing self- and other-reports (N = 210) supported both convergent and discriminant validity. The intercorrelations among the eight scales ranged from close to zero (between humor and sarcasm/cynicism) to large and positive (between sarcasm and cynicism). Consequently, second-order factor analyses revealed either two bipolar factors (based on ipsative data) or three unipolar factors (based on normative data). Study 2 related the CSM to instruments measuring personality (N = 999), intelligence (N = 214), and character strengths (N = 252), showing that (a) wit was the only style correlated with (verbal) intelligence, (b) fun was related to indicators of vitality and extraversion, (c) humor was related to character strengths of the heart, and (d) comic styles related to mock/ridicule (i.e., sarcasm, cynicism, but also irony) correlated negatively with character strengths of the virtues temperance, transcendence, and humanity. By contrast, satire had a moral goodness that was lacking in sarcasm and cynicism. Most importantly, the two studies revealed that humor might be related to a variety of character strengths depending on the comic style utilized, and that more styles may be distinguished than has been done in the past. The CSM is recommended for future explorations and refinements of comic styles.
    • Evaluation of a Picture-Based Test for the Assessment of Gelotophobia

      Ruch, Willibald; Platt, Tracey; Bruntsch, Richard; Ďurka, Róbert (Frontiers in Psychology, 2017-11-21)
      This study examines whether coding open answers in a picture-based test, as to the extent they reflect the fear of being laughed at (i.e., gelotophobia), demonstrates sufficient validity to construct a semi-projective test for the assessment of gelotophobia. Previous findings indicate that cartoon stimuli depicting laughter situations (i.e., in the pilot version of the Picture-Geloph; Ruch et al., 2009) on average elicit fear-typical responses in gelotophobes stronger than in non-gelotophobes. The present study aims to (a) develop a standardized scoring procedure based on a coding scheme, and (b) examine the properties of the pilot version of the Picture-Geloph in order to select the most acceptable items for a standard form of the test. For Study 1, a sample of N = 126 adults, with scores evenly distributed across the gelotophobia spectrum, completed the pilot version of the Picture-Geloph by noting down what they assumed the protagonist in each of 20 cartoons would say or think. Furthermore, participants answered the GELOPH<15> (Ruch and Proyer, 2008), the established questionnaire for the subjective assessment of the fear of being laughed at. Agreement between two independent raters indicated that the developed coding scheme allows for objective and reliable scoring of the Picture-Geloph (mean of intraclass correlations = 0.66). Nine items met the criteria employed to identify the psychometrically most reliable and valid items. These items were unidimensional and internally consistent (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.78). The total score of this selection (i.e., the Picture-Geloph<9>) discriminated significantly between non-fearful, slightly, markedly, and extremely fearful individuals; furthermore, it correlated sufficiently high (r = 0.66; rc = 0.79 when corrected for reliability of both measures) with the GELOPH<15>. Cronbach’s alpha (0.73) was largely comparable whereas the estimate of convergent validity was found to be lower in one (r = 0.50; rc = 0.61; N = 103) of the two samples in Study 2. Combining all three samples (N = 313) yielded a linear relationship between the self-report and the Picture-Geloph. With the Picture-Geloph<9> and the developed coding scheme, an unobtrusive and valid alternative instrument for the assessment of gelotophobia is provided. Possible applications are discussed.
    • Psychometric Comparisons of Benevolent and Corrective Humor across 22 Countries: The Virtue Gap in Humor Goes International

      Heintz, Sonja; Ruch, Willibald; Platt, Tracey; Pang, Dandan; Carretero-Dios, Hugo; Dionigi, Alberto; Argüello Gutiérrez, Catalina; Brdar, Ingrid; Brzozowska, Dorota; Chen, Hsueh-Chih; et al. (Frontiers in Psychology, 2018-02-09)
      Recently, two forms of virtue-related humor, benevolent and corrective, have been introduced. Benevolent humor treats human weaknesses and wrongdoings benevolently, while corrective humor aims at correcting and bettering them. Twelve marker items for benevolent and corrective humor (the BenCor) were developed, and it was demonstrated that they fill the gap between humor as temperament and virtue. The present study investigates responses to the BenCor from 25 samples in 22 countries (overall N = 7,226). The psychometric properties of the BenCor were found to be sufficient in most of the samples, including internal consistency, unidimensionality, and factorial validity. Importantly, benevolent and corrective humor were clearly established as two positively related, yet distinct dimensions of virtue-related humor. Metric measurement invariance was supported across the 25 samples, and scalar invariance was supported across six age groups (from 18 to 50+ years) and across gender. Comparisons of samples within and between four countries (Malaysia, Switzerland, Turkey, and the UK) showed that the item profiles were more similar within than between countries, though some evidence for regional differences was also found. This study thus supported, for the first time, the suitability of the 12 marker items of benevolent and corrective humor in different countries, enabling a cumulative cross-cultural research and eventually applications of humor aiming at the good.