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The Humor Quotient Newsletter

Vol. 2, No. 1, January 1996, Winona, MN 55987


Critical Thinking and the HQT


[This issue of HQN is devoted to presentation of first humor results from Winona State University’s Critical Thinking Inventory (CTI), a project of ten WSU faculty from all five WSU colleges, funded by an internal grant, a Bush Foundation grant through the Minnesota State University System, and grants-in-kind from numerous local donors.]


The WSU Critical Thinking Inventory grew out of a prototype created and tested in WSU’s  sociology department under the direction of Dr. Brian Aldrich.  In its final form, CTI asked students to estimate their use of 290 critical thinking dimensions during the previous 12 months on a 1 (Very Often) to 5 (Never) scale.  Many of these students, representing majors across the university, also provided responses to three psychological instruments, among them the Humor Quotient Test (HQT).  Ultimately, 140 students took Section A of the CTI, while 120 students took Section B.  For Section A lists of dimensions, 63 students also completed the HQT.


Since HQT was specifically designed to measure intellective humor—what George Meredith called “Humor of the Mind”—the question whether intellective humor is related to other, non-humorous thinking skills within a particular population.






Correlating Other Thinking Skills to HQT Measures


HQT delineates humor intelligence on three axes:  the Crusader/Consoler axis, the Advocate/Reconciler axis, and the Intellectual/Bridgebuilder axis.  Preliminary evidence suggests what theory would probably also imply:  the HQT Intellectual/Bridgebuilder axis seems to be more correlated with other thinking skills.


This does not mean that Intellectual is the equivalent of “smart” or “academically talented” in an HQT context.  For CTI data, there is no evidence of a statistical relationship between Intellectual scores and grade point, for example.


Intellectual in HQT is defined as a preference for Incongruity and Word Play humor in contradistinction to Bridgebuilder preference for Gotcha and Sympathetic Pain humor.  Since the six humor personality types are defined as combinations of these four intellective humor preferences, Intellectual, with its love of Word Play and Incongruity, is the mathematical antithesis of Bridgebuilder: a high Intellectual score is by the same token a low Bridgebuilder score.


Constructing a Critical Thinking Composite Index


For 63 respondents to the Section A thinking dimensions of CTI, we can compare HQT Intellectual scores and use estimates for approximately 150 thinking dimensions.  We can also compare Intellectual score to any index created from individual thinking dimensions.  In the following discussion, we diminish the range of possibilities by considering only dimensions found in CTI List 1A, composed of 33 thinking dimensions concerned with Idea Development.


Though List 1A is entirely concerned with thought processes used in idea development, the dimensions themselves can be categorized as representing quite distinct types of skills.  Some, for example, involve clear seeing—how often does the respondent compare or contrast ideas.  Others consider pictorial skills—how often does the respondent draw sketches or make charts?


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

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

E mail:  pgrawe@VAX2.Winona.MSUS.EDU






From the 33 dimensions in List 1A, it is thus possible to derive many reasonable sub-indices representing thought complexes.  There is virtually no academic discussion from which to develop hypotheses linking most of these thought-complexes to humor of any kind.


In the absence of theory, preliminary research proceeded empirically: each of the 33 dimensions was examined separately as a scattergram comparing dimension use to Intellectual score.  Each scatter was divided into four quadrants.  Men’s and women’s scores were considered separately.


Five dimensions gave evidence of use correlation with high Intellectual score both for women and for men.  Compared to the remaining 28 dimensions of List 1A, these five seem to represent something of an ideal of Proactive Applied Integrative Discovery (PAID).  Typically, the five go beyond mastery of knowledge to integrative application.  They suggest an expropriation of disciplinary content by a conscious discovery process for higher understanding and application of learning to new, practical situations.  (No doubt, this expropriation is strongly desired by Minnesota’s taxpayers in funding WSU.)


The five dimensions of the PAID Index are:


     Looked for recent models of success or failure,

     Designed an experiment to test an idea,

     Used knowledge learned in one class to develop an idea in


     Written to organize what you have learned about a subject,

     Generated multiple possible solutions to a problem.


Calculating the PAID Index is a simple summation of the use estimates of the respondent for the five dimensions.  The PAID Index can then be compared to the respondent’s HQT Intellectual score.  Quadrant breakdowns for Male, Female, and Composite results are shown below:



PAID Index and Humor

                 Female           Male


               Int.      Bri.     Int.        Bri.

Low PAID      7     I     18          2   I     3

              _____ I_______                                  I              

                    I                                                I

High PAID      12   I          12                        7        I          2             



               Int.      Bri.

Low PAID        9   I     21



High PAID      19   I     14    

 As a two-tailed test, for WSU students PAID use is correlated with Intellectual humor preference (p<.03).






Interpreting the PAID Result


In interpreting all correlations with the HQT, it is centrally important to remember that the HQT personality types have been formulated entirely in terms of positive attributes.  Thus, to be a Crusader is, by formulation, a good thing—but so is its opposite, being a Consoler.  So also being a Bridgebuilder is good and so is being an Intellectual.  Would that human problems could all be resolved so easily by positive formulation!


Without the Pollyanna bias, the single PAID result can be seen as actually four results about positive and negative aspects of Intellectual/Bridgebuilder personality differences.


1)   Positively, Intellectual humor goes with an ability to draw from one area in order to discover in another area, but

2)   Negatively, Intellectual humor may also indicate a willingness to expropriate ideas from their initial venue in ways that may be quite annoying to the less Intellectual.

3)   Positively, Bridgebuilders probably better recognize the disconcerting nature of PAID appropriation to fellow-workers trying to get a cooperative job done, but

4)   Negatively, Bridgebuilders are probably less able to arrive at the breakthrough idea for decisive change.


HQN was announced in the latest issue of HUMOR:  International Journal of Humor Research.  Submission to HUMOR may be made to Editor-in-chief Victor Raskin, Department of English, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.


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






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