Humor and laughter are prevalent in most people’s daily lives. According to Treger and colleagues (2013), some estimates suggest that we laugh an average of 18 times a day, often in the presence of others.
One of the most fundamental human motivations is to form bonds with others. Consequently, humor may be one of many tools that people use to connect with others. People desire a good sense of humor in social relationships:
“Laughter conveys appreciation and gratitude – an intention to reciprocate for having received a stimulating idea” – Weisfeld (1993, p. 141).
People may desire humor in that humor and laughter connect people, attract and indicate liking. Even in online conversations, humor can be found. Humor can be seen as a tool to communicate reciprocal liking to other people.
We enjoy laughing with others, and enjoyable interactions may lead people to establish new relationships and help maintain current ones. Indeed, couples who engage in novel, exciting (more enjoyable) activities report more relationship satisfaction, relative to those who engage in more mundane activities (Treger et al., 2013).
New research by Treger and colleagues (2013) examined the relationship between humor and liking. The research shows that people may like humorists via two mechanisms:
- They believe that the humorist likes them, i.e. perceived reciprocal liking
- Enjoyment of the interaction with the humorist
So, it supports the idea that humour is a general, social tool to connect and affiliate. Humor was also found to be positively associated with non-physical (platonic) liking and closeness.
Moreover, participants who interacted in a series of humorous tasks reported more romantic desire and closeness to their partners than participants who interacted in a series of similar but non-humorous tasks. In sum, the research shows a positive relation between liking and humor:
“If people interact with a partner whom they find humorous, they perceive that their partner likes them and report that they enjoy their interaction, which in turn bolster liking” (p. 540).