Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services


Humor is a unique social interaction that is ubiquitous in everyday life. Humor can serve a number of functions, including ones that may either enhance or detract from social intimacy. The purpose of this study was to examine relationships between different uses of humor and intimacy in relationships. It was hypothesized that positive and expressive uses of humor would lead to increases in intimacy within the relationship, whereas negative uses of humor would lead to decreased levels of intimacy.

Undergraduate college students (N = 93) completed the Functional Uses of Humor Scale and the Miller Social Intimacy Scale. Analyses focused on female participants (N = 74) due to the small number of male participants (N = 19) in this study. The results showed that positive use of humor (e.g., cheering up their partner or having fun within the relationship) increased social intimacy. Surprisingly using humor for expressive purposes (e.g., talking about sensitive issues) decreased intimacy levels. There was not an observed relationship between intimacy and using humor for negative purposes (e.g., teasing or picking on each other).

Discrepancy scores between the participants’ own use of humor and their reports of their partners’ use of humor indicated that people who used humor for certain purposes also reported that their partner used humor in the same manner. Length and type of relationship also played an important role in discrepancy scores. As relationships progressed, partners had a tendancy to use humor less often for positive goals.

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