Love and Laughter: Attachment Style and the Use of Humor When Emotionally Supporting a Relationship Partner

Jia Chong


In romantic relationships, it is important for partners to master a range of social skills in order to support each other. Yet attachment research has focused mostly on reducing negative emotions without considering how positive processes, including humor, may contribute to the support process. I tested two hypotheses about the use of humor by analyzing videotaped couple interactions during which one partner disclosed a personal problem and the other partner responded. Because the data were taken from an experimental study in which cognitive depletion and experimentally enhanced security were manipulated, I also examined the effects of the manipulations on the use of humor. I predicted that participants who were more securely attached would use more positive humor, as would participants who received the security-enhancement manipulation. The results supported the predictions only weakly, suggesting a need to improve the coding system and study interactions that provide more opportunities for humor.

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