Light humor in the workplace is a good thing, says MU business professor

November 01, 2007

It is commonly believed that kidding around at work isn¡¯t a good thing. Well, it is, says a University of Missouri-Columbia researcher, who has examined how workplace humor affects the working environment.

Chris Robert, assistant professor of management in MU¡¯s Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business, said that humor ¨C particularly joking around about things associated with the job ¨C actually has a positive impact in the workplace. Occasional humor among colleagues, he said, enhances creativity, department cohesiveness and overall performance. The conclusion was made by examining theories on humor and integrating literature from a wide variety of disciplines that touch on the subject. Several hundred sources were analyzed by Robert and collaborator Wan Yan, a business doctoral student, who have attempted to bring together literature from numerous disciplines to make the case that humor is serious business.

¡°Humor has a significant impact in organizations,¡± said Robert, who also teaches psychology in MU¡¯s College of Arts and Science. ¡°Humor isn¡¯t incompatible with goals of the workplace. It¡¯s not incompatible with the organization¡¯s desire to be competitive. In fact, we argue that humor is pretty important. It¡¯s not just clowning around and having fun; it has meaningful impact on cohesiveness in the workplace and communication quality among workers. The ability to appreciate humor, the ability to laugh and make other people laugh actually has physiological effects on the body that cause people to become more bonded.¡±

In their theoretical paper, Robert and Yan focus on three primary areas: Robert stressed the international aspect is an important part of the research and said the paper addresses some of the key cultural differences between the United States and Asian economic powerhouses such as China and India.

¡°Humor is difficult in cross cultural situations,¡± he said. ¡°It¡¯s hard to know what¡¯s going to be funny or when to use humor. Some people have suggested that you just avoid it all together; don¡¯t be funny, don¡¯t try to make jokes. We basically reject that and offer some ground rules for understanding when and what kind of humor might be appropriate.¡±

¡°The Case for Developing New Research on Humor and Culture in Organizations: Toward a Higher Grade of Manure,¡± was published as a chapter in Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management.
-end-


University of Missouri-Columbia

Related Positive Emotions Articles from Brightsurf:

Why are memories attached to emotions so strong?
Multiple neurons in the brain must fire in synchrony to create persistent memories tied to intense emotions, new research from Columbia neuroscientists has found.

The relationship between looking/listening and human emotions
Toyohashi University of Technology has indicated that the relationship between attentional states in response to pictures and sounds and the emotions elicited by them may be different in visual perception and auditory perception.

Multitasking in the workplace can lead to negative emotions
From writing papers to answering emails, it's common for office workers to juggle multiple tasks at once.

The 'place' of emotions
The entire set of our emotions is mapped in a small region of the brain, a 3 centimeters area of the cortex, according to a study conducted at the IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca, Italy.

Faking emotions at work does more harm than good
Faking your emotions at work to appear more positive likely does more harm than good, according to a University of Arizona researcher.

Students do better in school when they can understand, manage emotions
Students who are better able to understand and manage their emotions effectively, a skill known as emotional intelligence, do better at school than their less skilled peers, as measured by grades and standardized test scores, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

How people want to feel determines whether others can influence their emotions
New Stanford research on emotions shows that people's motivations are a driving factor behind how much they allow others to influence their feelings, such as anger.

Emotions from touch
Touching different types of surfaces may incur certain emotions. This was the conclusion made by the psychologists from the Higher School of Economics in a recent empirical study.

Negative emotions can reduce our capacity to trust
It is no secret that a bad mood can negatively affect how we treat others.

Surrounded by low achievers -- High on positive emotions?
Study involving the University of Konstanz proves negative impacts of high-achieving environment on school students' individual emotional well-being.

Read More: Positive Emotions News and Positive Emotions Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.