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The Humor Quotient Newsletter

Vol. 1, No. 1, November 1994, Winona, MN 55987


WELCOME! To the premier issue of the Humor Quotient Newsletter.  If you’ve been into football and baseball cards, save this with Walter Payton and Roger Maris!


Humor Quotient Newsletter is designed to provide quick briefs on research in progress, recent humor developments, coming events, and the like.  We hope to publish four times a year, originally emphasizing research results being achieved by the Grawe Humor Quotient Test (HQT) and other experimental instruments.  Our goal is to present objectively demonstrable findings based on instruments designed in light of sensitive literary analysis.  In this sense, we see HQN as essentially inter-disciplinary in nature and interest.  Humor is a litmus of our humanity.  HQN will press for humor to become a central tool for all human studies.


Wanted:  Humor Papers!


In recent years, humor studies have developed a special cachet based on humor’s usefulness in holistic medicine.  In many other fields, however, humor languishes—as it has ever since Aristotle stigmatized humor as for lesser minds and lesser men.  Humor will not receive general serious treatment until scholars consistently demonstrate humor’s importance in human studies.






The International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS) provides an important yearly forum for such serious study.  Next June’s meeting in Birmingham, England is currently calling for papers.  Closer to home for many, the Midlands Conference on  Language and Literature (MCLL) in Omaha, NE has featured humor seminars for the last several years.  Please contact the following directly.  But do it today!


Kathleen Collins, Ph.D         Don L. F. Nilsen, Ph.D

MCLL                           ISHS

English Department             English Department

Creighton University           Arizona State University

Omaha, NE 68178                Tempe, AZ 85287-0302


Tel:  (402) 280-2822                   



Widening Experimentation with the HQT


The Grawe Humor Quotient Test was formally presented in June 1994 at the ISHS Conference in Ithaca, NY.  Field test results from Winona State University indicating test validity led to a lively discussion with a mainly-psychologist audience. Several participants indicated an interest to widen field testing at their home institutions, and the HQT is currently in use at Harvard University, Hold Family College, and Haifa University.  HQN has been established in part to report these wider results.


The range of possible investigations with the HQT is very broad. Comparative data bases, totaling better than 450 respondents are available for cooperative research projects.  If you would like to be involved in the wider testing program, please contact HQN at:


Humor Quotient Newsletter

c/o Dr. Paul Grawe, English

Winona State University

Winona, MN 55987


Tel.: (507) 454-4141

e-mail: PGRAWE@ VAX2.Winona.MSUS.EDU








First Vocational Results with the HQT


Ideally a personality test should be sensitive enough to yield significant results on even a small sample.  “Small” is obviously a relative term, but the following strikes us as definitely in the micro-range:


Six linguists working on translation of previously unwritten tribal languages have taken the HQT.  All 6 are Bible translators working in equatorial latitudes of both hemispheres.  The HQT identified 5 of 6 as Advocates.  This represents better than 98% confidence of a real correlation between vocation and HQT result.


HQT Testing Funded in Two Grants


In the past two months, funding has been received from two sources for advanced HQT testing.  The first is from the Bush Foundation as part of a larger faculty development grant to the MN State University System.


The second is a Winona State University Acceleration Grant for assessment of critical thinking university-wide.


The two grants work together to measure what students say about their critical thinking practices compared to what department faculty say are their departments’ critical thinking priorities.  Student respondents are also scheduled to take the HQT in the hope that humor personality gives clues about what kinds of critical thinking are congenial to what personality types.


Dr. Brian Aldrich of WSU’s Sociology Department, an originator of the twin grant proposals, argues that there is a strong theoretical reason to investigate the connection between critical thinking and humor.  In higher education, critical thinking tasks ask that students “lay their cards on the table,” exposing their full reasoning.  Humor lies at the other extreme of the communicational spectrum in that humor typically disguises everything from the joke teller to the true butt and the true point of the joke.


A large, new HQT database is anticipated.






HQT Results Coming in from beyond the Midwest


We are now able to report the first HQT field results from outside the Midwest thanks to the experimental work of Dr. Dan Holt at Holy Family College in Philadelphia, PA.  We hope Dan will report directly in our next issue, but we can’t resist printing some preliminaries:


Holy Family respondents confirmed findings from Minnesota that men test more heavily as Crusader personalities than do women, and women test more highly as Consolers.  We’d have had serious doubts about the HQT if this hadn’t been a very high confidence (99%) result.


At Ithaca, participants suggested a validation test of asking respondents before they took the HQT to estimate their personality type from the 6 HQT options.  Dan undertook this experiment at Holy Family.


Of his 62 respondents, 16 guessed their type correctly.  This represented a 91% confirmation of all previously reported validation tests.


Crash Course in HQT Personality Types


The HQT employs 4 kinds of jokes and creates 6 pairs of preference, indicating 6 personality types.


The 4 joke types are:  Gotcha (G), Sympathetic Pain (S), Incongruity (I), and Word Play (W).  All except Sympathetic Pain have substantial critical bibliographies.  Sympathetic Pain is suggested in discussions of philosopher Suzanne Langer and cartoonist Al Capp.  It was formally defined in an MCLL 1994 paper by Dr. Paul Grawe.


Preference for G and I indicates Crusader personality. G+W indicates Bridgebuilder. S+W indicates Consoler. S+I indicates Reconciler. I+W indicates Intellectual.


Robin Jaeckle Grawe is the principal designer of the HQT.




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