Manchester Metropolitan University's Research Repository

    Humor styles in the classroom: students’ perceptions of lecturer humor

    James, Lucy and Fox, Claire ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4329-4056 (2024) Humor styles in the classroom: students’ perceptions of lecturer humor. Humor: international journal of humor research, 37 (1). pp. 109-123. ISSN 0933-1719

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    Previous research has shown that humor can have an impact on people’s interpersonal relationships and the way they are perceived by others. In addition, it has been suggested that use of humor by teachers can be positive, but also negative. The aim of the research was to examine students’ perceptions of lecturers described as using different ‘humor styles’. Using an online study, a sample of undergraduate students (n = 201) were presented with one of 20 vignettes of a male or female lecturer using a particular style of humor (affiliative, aggressive, self-defeating, self-enhancing) or no humor, while they were teaching content described as ‘easy’ or ‘challenging’. They responded to questions to assess: approachability of the lecturer, feelings of engagement, perceptions of the learning environment, and general perceptions of the lecturer. It was found that a lecturer using aggressive humor was perceived more negatively compared to when using the other humor styles, and that the adaptive styles of humor (particularly affiliative) had a positive impact on student perceptions, compared to when no humor was used. Self-defeating humor was perceived more positively compared to aggressive humor, but, unexpectedly, no differently to the other styles of humor. The findings will add to the growing literature on the use of humor in an educational context.

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