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Laughing and liking: Exploring the interpersonal effects of humor use in initial social interactions

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


Humor is a common interpersonal phenomenon that may positively influence the trajectories of social interactions. In two social interaction experiments, we examined the association between humor and liking. The first study was a secondary analysis of data from a prior experiment (originally conducted for another purpose) in which unacquainted participants engaged in a self‐disclosure task and rated each other on various dimensions, including humor. In Experiment 2, unacquainted mixed‐sex dyads participated in a series of either humorous or similar but non‐humorous tasks. In both studies, humor was positively associated with liking and closeness; perceived reciprocal liking and enjoyment of the interaction mediated the association between humor and liking. Likewise, we found a positive association between liking and humor. Men and women did not differ in self‐reported humor use. The findings suggest that humor is a mechanism used to establish connections with others across all relationships and for both sexes. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.