A Funny Thing Happened: Humour at Work

Humour is all around us, from sitcoms to comic books to tongue-in-cheek church signs. But is the term, “laughter is the best medicine,” a cliché or a reality? At the 2012 Canadian Positive Psychology Conference, Kimberly Edwards, a University of Western Ontario doctoral candidate, discussed the power of appropriately-used humour at work to enhance psychological well-being.

In The Psychology of Humour: An Integrative Approach (2007), Dr. Rod Martin, Edwards’ supervisor, defines humour as “an emotional response of mirth in a social context that is elicited by a perception of playful incongruity and is expressed through smiling and laugther.” A popular humour measure, the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths (VIAIS) categorizes humour as a strength under transcendence, forging connections to the larger universe and providing meaning. The VIA-IS further describes a humorous person as someone who is playful and lighthearted, likes to laugh, make jokes, (gently) tease and brings smiles to others.

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