How virtuous is humor? What we can learn from current instruments.

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How virtuous is humor? What we can learn from current instruments.

Despite the diverse philosophical accounts of the relation of humor to virtue or vice this ethical dimension has not been included explicitly in psychological humor instruments. Yet behavior described in humor questionnaires covering a broad variety of components can be used to study an implicit relation of humor to vices and virtues. The main aim of the present paper was (1) to find humorous behavior and attitudes representing virtues and vices within an item pool of 12 popular humor questionnaires; and (2) to investigate the nature of the virtues represented by their item contents. A comprehensive measure of humor covered the entire range from virtue to vice with the majority of items evaluated as neutral. Humanity and wisdom were most strongly represented but the items cover all six core virtues (Dahlsgaard 2004) to varying degrees. Further research can now investigate the relationship of humor and individual virtues more closely.

The Journal of Positive Psychology Vol. 4, No. 6, November 2009, 528–539

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