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The Humor Quotient Newsletter

Vol. 1, No. 3, October 1995, Winona, MN 55987


The last issue of HQN reported on gender differences in the use of jokes as a small group negotiating technique.  A legislative simulation asks groups of five to negotiate a budget. Negotiators are ranked I through V within their groups according to their relative success compared to negotiators with the same portfolios in other groups. Participants indicate which negotiators in their own groups were especially notable for the use of various negotiation techniques.


It was reported that for men the use of jokes was associated with success, whereas for women jokes were associated with loss.  Not surprisingly, men were more likely to be known for joking than were women.  (See Fig. 1.).


Joking is a proactive form of humor.  Reactive humor, as measured by the combination of “laughing well,” “taking kidding well,” and “being good humored” creates a very different pattern.


For reactive humor, men were only slightly more likely to be noted (avg. noted = 5.78) than were women (avg. noted = 5.09).  And the graphs for use of reactive humor show different patterns than those for jokes for both men and women.  (See Fig. 2.)  (Because very few males turn up in rank III, the rank III number for males may not be reliable.)






For women, on the other hand, reactive humor was associated with neither winning nor losing but rather with a “middle board.”  Women who ranked III were more likely to be noted for reactive humor than women in all of the other ranks. This difference was shown to be significant at the 97% level by a Wilcoxon Rank analysis.



It seems that for women, reactive humor is a safety play.  Associated neither with decided victory or clear defeat, it tends to create a middle board.  In negotiating situations where great gain seems unlikely and loss looms or where the situation itself is high risk, a middle board may be a welcome outcome and a safety play the wisest strategy.  For women, reactive humor seems to be a safety play.

Robin Jaeckle Grawe


International Society for Humor Studies Conference


8th International ISHS Conference (1997)

Chair:  Amy Carrell               Co-Host:  Jim Fite

Department of English             International Center for

University of Central Oklahoma          Humor and Health

100 North University Drive        2930 Hidden Valley Road

Edmond, OK 73034-5209             Edmond, OK 73013  USA

TEL:  (405) 342-2980, ext. 5609   TEL:  (405) 341-8115

FAX:  (405) 341-3823              FAX:  (405) 341-8240


HQN Editor:  Paul Grawe, Department of English, Winona State

 University, Winona, MN 55987 Tel:(507)457-5443

 E mail:  pgrawe@VAX2.Winona.MSUS.EDU





Women and Consoler Quotient:  Age Differences


Previous issues of HQN have reported differences between men and women on the Crusader-Consoler axis of the Humor Quotient Test.  On the basis of responses at Winona State University and at Holy Family College in Philadelphia as researched by Dr. Dan Holt, men score more toward Crusader and women more toward Consoler.  In our last issue, we also showed the data that men move away from Crusader status after age 30.


The same data set shows women also moving over time with respect to Consoler orientation.  The Holy Family and Winona data sets are both heavily weighted toward women, so in this case the total number of women respondents is 278.   Of these, 202 were under age 30; 50 were between age 30 and 50; 26 were over 50.  Over-60 respondents were largely from a senior citizen group.


As Figure 3 shows, a significantly (p <.04) highly percentage of those under 30 or over 50 had Consoler scores over 20 (approximately the median score).


Consoler Rank for Women by Age




Cons.                    I

Under 20          106    I     28



Cons.                    I

20 or more          122  I     22    


Thus the composite picture is for men to be moving away from Crusader and toward Consoler after age 30, while women after age 30 are moving away from Consoler and toward Crusader.  A likely movement toward Consoler occurs in women over 50 (17 of 26 scoring 20 or more).


Consoler scores are combined preferences for Word Play and Sympathetic Pain Jokes while Crusader Scores are combined preferences for Incongruity and Gotcha Jokes.





Humor and Technology


[At the Midlands Conference on Language and Literature in Omaha, NE this April 1, Kathy Hurley of Mankato State University presented a paper on “Humor and Technology” a synopsis of which is presented here:]


There’s always been a quirky connection between technology and the laughable—nothing else explains computer systems that crash when you need them the most or home VCR’s that require computer specialists to operate.  But the technology-humor connection takes on even more interesting turn when technical writers incorporate humor into the traditionally serious documents . . . such as manuals, proposals, instructions, and reports.


My contention is that technical writers may operate simultaneously in a popular office culture and a corporate culture, each with its own view of the world and distinct composing/reading conventions and demands.  When technical writers integrate humor into the serious world of technical documentation or into organized, official corporate cultures, traces of the office humor culture exhibit themselves in the documentation.


At times, these traces seem to be direct implants from the office or popular humor cultures.  For example, the writers who developed the Dummies series (Mac for Dummies, DOS for Dummies,), interweave 5th Wave cartoons into their manuals.   Other traces are less direct; for example, the general subject matter, such as a spoof on the IRS, may be the same in the office culture as in the humor in a technical text, but the form varies significantly.  An office humor version of such a spoof reads as follows:


IRS Form 1040


How much did you make?                     _______

Send it in                                 _______


At other times, what exists in the humor culture of the office doesn’t appear to enter the corporate culture and technical documentation at all; I’ve found no humor in technical texts

Related to sexual or bathroom activities.

HQNText Box:  
Kathy Hurley, Mankato State University
Mankato, MN





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