A comparison of humor styles, coping humor, and mental health between Chinese and Canadian university students

Guo-Hai Chen 1  and Rod A Martin 2
  • 1 Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.
  • 2 University of Western Ontario.


This research compares the structure and correlates of the Humor Styles Questionnaire (HSQ) and Coping Humor Scale (CHS) in the Chinese context with those of Canadian samples. Chinese translations of the HSQ, CHS, and Symptom Checklist 90 (SCL-90) were administered to 354 Chinese university students (M = 23.4 years of age, SD = 3.6). As in the original Canadian samples, four humor factors were found in the HSQ: Affliative, Self-enhancing, Aggressive, and Self-defeating humor, and one factor was found in the CHS. The HSQ and CHS scale reliabilities in the Chinese sample were generally acceptable. Chinese participants, as compared to Canadian norms, reported significantly lower scores on the HSQ subscales and CHS, particularly on Aggressive humor. No significant gender differences were found on the four HSQ subscales in the Chinese sample, whereas Canadian males reported more use of Aggressive and Self-defeating humor than did females. Although no gender difference was found on Coping humor in the Canadian samples, Chinese males had significantly higher scores on this scale than did females. In both the Chinese and Canadian samples, younger participants reported more use of Affliative and Aggressive humor than did older ones. Affliative, Self-enhancing, and Coping humor were negatively correlated, while Aggressive and Selfdefeating humor were positively correlated with the subscales and General Symptomatic Index of the SCL-90. Regression results indicated that mental health is more strongly related to Self-enhancing, Self-defeating, and Coping humor than Affliative and Aggressive humor. Overall, the findings support the theoretical structure and usefulness of the HSQ and CHS in the Chinese context.

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HUMOR, the official publication of the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS), was established over 25 years ago as an international interdisciplinary forum for the publication of high-quality research papers on humor as an important and universal human faculty. The journal publishes original contributions in areas such as interdisciplinary humor research, humor theory, and humor research methodologies.