Reference : The use of humor in intimate intercultural relationships
Parts of books : Contribution to collective works
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Sociology & social sciences
The use of humor in intimate intercultural relationships
Aleksic, Gabrijela mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Integrative Research Unit: Social and Individual Development (INSIDE) >]
Nadine, Thomas mailto []
Experiencing Culture in Intercultural Intimate Relationships
Aleksic, Gabrijela mailto
Information Age Publications
[en] humour ; intimate relationships ; coping
[en] Current humor research tends to accentuate the positive and neglect the negative. Often, the healing power is in the center of humor research; however, less is reported about the negative effects humor can have if not used adequately. In particular, less is known about the appropriate and in-appropriate use of humor in an intercultural context. The purpose of this bachelor thesis was to bridge this lack in humor research by trying to identify the fine line between appropriate and in-appropriate humor. If humor is used appropriately, it can have a huge power to bridge cultural divides. Thus, this thesis aimed as well to investigate the use of humor as a coping strategy in intimate intercultural couples. Thirdly, additional functions of humor shall be explored. Semi-structured, focused interviews were conducted with two intimate intercultural couples. Participants were of Irish, Luxembourgish, German and French-Canadian nationality. Interview data was then analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Results revealed that the appropriate use of humor depends on personal, linguistic, and cultural factors. Overall, self-deprecating humor seems to be the safest type of humor, whereas sarcasm can be experienced as hurtful even if not intended to be. Ethnic humor can have positive effects, too, if it is directed versus the own culture and not versus foreign cultures. Moreover, results revealed that humor mainly serves two functions in intimate intercultural relationships: the one of bonding and the one of coping. Humor as a coping strategy can be used internally, hence related to relationship issues, as well as externally, thus related to external stressors. One can conclude that the function of bonding and coping cannot be clearly distinguished. Consequently, it proves that humor can be a useful tool in bridging intercultural and interpersonal divides. Limitations of the study clearly lie in its sample size, which does not allow to draw any generalizations. In the future, similar studies with a larger sample size as well as with non-Western cultures would be interesting to investigate in the future.

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