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International Journal of Humor Research

Editor-in-Chief: Ford, Thomas E.

4 Issues per year

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Volume 26, Issue 4


How adaptive and maladaptive humor influence well-being at work: A diary study

Hannes Guenter / Bert Schreurs / IJ. Hetty Van Emmerik / Wout Gijsbers / Ad Van Iterson
Published Online: 2013-10-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2013-0032


In this paper, we investigate how adaptive and maladaptive humor influence well-being in the workplace. In particular, this study examines the extent to which reactions from others (i.e., humor targets) can moderate the relationship between humor and well-being. Unlike prior research, we adopted a withinperson research design. We used data from a two-week-long diary study of 57 Dutch individuals employed in the automotive sector. Our hierarchical linear modeling analysis found that employees are more engaged on days when they express adaptive humor, while they appear more emotionally exhausted on days when they express maladaptive humor. Reactions from humor targets do not moderate the effects of humor. Using a within-person design, this study makes an important contribution to the humor at work literature, which has focused almost exclusively on inter-individual differences.

Keywords: humor; adaptive humor; maladaptive humor; work engagement; emotional exhaustion; diary study

About the article

Hannes Guenter

Hannes Guenter is an assistant professor in the Department of Organization and Strategy at the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics in the Netherlands. He earned his PhD in work psychology from ETH Zurich in Switzerland. His research interests include team processes (e.g., planning, conflicts), team dynamics, time in organizations, and employee well-being. His research has been published in Human Resource Management, Research Policy, and the Journal of Management & Organization, among others.

Bert Schreurs

Bert Schreurs is an associate professor in the Department of Organization and Strategy at the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics in the Netherlands. He earned his PhD in psychology from the University of Leuven in Belgium. His current research interests include multilevel methodology, emotional regulation, occupational stress and well-being, and constructive deviance. His work has been published in various journals, such as the Journal of Organizational Behavior, Human Resource Management, Human Performance, and Work & Stress. Since 2012, he has been an associate editor of Career Development International.

IJ. Hetty Van Emmerik

IJ. Hetty Van Emmerik is a full professor of organizational theory and organizational behavior in the Department of Organization and Strategy at the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics in the Netherlands. Her research interests include organizational behavior and human resource management issues, such as social relationships within organizations (e.g., leadership, working within teams, mentoring, networking, and social support issues) and the association with various career outcomes at the team and individual levels (e.g., team satisfaction, commitment, burnout, and work engagement). Her work has been published in various journals, such as Work & Stress, Work and Occupations, Group and Organization Management, and the Journal of Organizational Behavior.

Wout Gijsbers

Wout Gijsbers is a digital media marketeer and strategist, and the owner of 59 STAPLES Sustainable Digital Media Marketing. As both an MSc student at the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics and a BSc student at University College Maastricht, he conducted research on the use of humor in organizational settings. This research has also shaped his approach to the development of Digital Media Marketing strategies within organizations.

Ad Van Iterson

Ad Van Iterson is an associate professor of Organization Studies at Maastricht University, the Netherlands. He graduated at the University of Amsterdam, after which he earned his PhD from Maastricht University with a thesis on cultural control in the early factory system. His current research focuses on informal processes such as discourse, creativity, impression management and civilization in relation to wider institutional processes. He has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Human Relations, Group and Organization Management, Organization Studies, International Studies of Management and Organization and Organization, as well as books, such as The Civilised Organization. He is also a novelist and columnist.

Published Online: 2013-10-19

Published in Print: 2013-10-25

Citation Information: Humor, Volume 26, Issue 4, Pages 573–594, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2013-0032.

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