Contemporary approaches to understanding humor have developed models that underscore the importance of both adaptive and maladaptive humor styles. The expression of these humor styles can then impact either positively or negatively on the self or others. One such model, as recently proposed by Rod Martin and his colleagues, outlines four distinct humor styles; namely self-enhancing, affiliative, self-defeating, and aggressive humor. Several studies with both adults and older adolescents provide initial empirical support for this model, including the adaptive aspects of self-enhancing and affiliative humor, as well as the maladaptive components of self-defeating and aggressive humor. However, these four humor styles have yet to be considered with respect to children. As such, the present paper considers how these different humor styles may bear on peer relationships and bullying during middle childhood (ages 6–12). In our examination, we describe how adaptive and maladaptive humor styles may either help or hinder the child's status within a peer group. Special emphasis is directed towards potential relationships between specific humor styles and either peer acceptance or victimization, as well as both direct and indirect forms of bullying. We conclude by describing several potential areas of research that may prove beneficial in furthering our understanding of humor and social relationship issues in middle childhood.
© Walter de Gruyter