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  • Four main styles of humour were identified by psychologist Rod Martin in 2003.
  • They include affiliative, self-enhancing, aggressive, and self-defeating humour.
  • You can find out which style of you lean toward by taking the Humour Styles Questionnaire.

Humour varies greatly from person to person, and what one person finds funny won't necessarily appeal to someone else.

Psychologist Rod Martin took a stab at quantifying humour, and in 2003 he identified what he called the four broad styles of humour: 

  1. affiliative
  2. self-enhancing
  3. aggressive
  4. self-defeating

Martin broke down each style in the Journal of Research in Personality. Affiliative humour, he said, is used "to enhance one's relationships with others," and involves engaging in banter and cracking jokes with friends. Self-enhancing humour involves making yourself feel better by finding humour in your situation. Aggressive humour is marked by sarcasm, teasing, and ridicule, and self-defeating humour involves putting yourself down to gain approval from others.

Virtually everyone's sense of humour is a blend of different humour styles, but many people tend to lean in one direction, Martin said.

If you're curious about which style of humour you have, you're in luck. Along with his findings, Martin published a questionnaire that is available to take online at The Cut.

The questionnaire asks you to rate on a scale from 1 to 5 how much you agree with statements like "I often go overboard in putting myself down when I am making jokes or trying to be funny" and "If I am feeling sad or upset, I usually lose my sense of humor."

Each style of humour has its advantages and disadvantages and can reveal a lot about the individual. Affiliative and self-enhancing humour are both linked to extroversion, for example, while self-defeating humour is linked to neuroticism. But every type of humour, even aggressive humour, has its place, Martin said.

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

Regardless of your specific humour style, the benefits of having a sense of humour are clear. Studies have shown funny people are rated more attractive and that humour boosts perceptions of confidence and status. And humour between romantic partners is critical in building a lasting relationship, one researcher found.

Find out which style of humour you have here 

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