Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Rod A. Martin


Humour can be both beneficial and harmful to romantic relationships. Research indicates that affiliative humour is associated with higher levels of relationship satisfaction, whereas aggressive humour is associated with lower levels of relationship satisfaction. However, past research is limited by its reliance on cross-sectional designs and general measures of humour use. Furthermore, little research has examined potential mediators that may account for the observed relationships between humour styles and relationship satisfaction. The current daily diary studies were the among the first to examine daily within-person associations between humour styles (specifically in the context of romantic relationship), relationship satisfaction, and positive and negative interactions within relationships, and to explore how these relationships are mediated by emotions and intimacy. Method: Samples of 193 and 200 university students involved in dating relationships completed online daily diaries that assessed humour styles in their relationships, relationship satisfaction, and interactions in their relationships, as well as emotions and intimacy in their relationships (Study 2 only). Results: Self-reported and perceived partner affiliative humour were associated with greater relationship satisfaction, whereas perceived partner aggressive humour was associated with reduced relationship satisfaction. Affiliative humour was a stronger predictor of relationship satisfaction than aggressive humour. The relationship between self-reported aggressive humour and relationship satisfaction was moderated by overall aggressive humour use across the study period, such that people who rarely used aggressive humour experienced positive relationships between aggressive humour and satisfaction, and people who often used aggressive humour experienced a negative relationship between the two variables. Positive relationship interactions were positively associated with affiliative humour, whereas negative interactions were positively associated with aggressive humour. Furthermore, playfulness in romantic relationships predicted higher daily use of affiliative humour. Finally, the relationships between affiliative humour (both self-reported and perceived partner) and relationship satisfaction were mediated by intimacy and positive emotion. Conclusions: These results suggest that both self-reported and perceived partner humour styles play a role in predicting relationship satisfaction within individuals on a day-to-day basis, and that these associations are partially explained by increased intimacy and positive emotions.

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