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International Journal of Humor Research

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Volume 29, Issue 1 (Feb 2016)


The development and validation of the Humor at Work (HAW) scale

Maren Rawlings
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Psychology, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria Australia
  • Email:
/ Bruce Findlay
  • Department of Psychology, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria Australia
Published Online: 2016-02-16 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2015-0097


Two studies report the development and validation of the Humor At Work (HAW) questionnaire, developed specifically for the measurement of humor within workplace settings. Using an empirical approach to item selection, 150 items were administered over the internet to an international (largely Australian) sample of 339 individuals in a range of occupations. Exploratory factor analysis produced an initial questionnaire comprising eight scales. Study 2 administered the questionnaire, and several other self-report instruments, to a second sample of 377 working Australians. The eight confirmed scales were validated. Also using confirmatory factor analysis, the initial questionnaire was reduced to a final 13-item instrument comprising two scales: Pleasant Climate and Unpleasant Climate. These scales were independent of age, gender, education, and position. They were also independent of the factors of the Big Five, mood measures of positive and negative affect, social desirability, and altruism. Since Unpleasant Climate was positively correlated with the Climate of Fear measure of Ashkanasy and Nicholson (2003), and Pleasant Climate with the Affiliative and Self-Enhancing humor styles from Martin et al.’s (2003) Humor Styles Questionnaire, the HAW provides a useful measure of humor within the workplace environment.

Keywords: humor; work; fear; resistance; organizational culture


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About the article

Maren Rawlings

Maren Rawlings is currently retired but is a tutor at Swinburne University, where she graduated PhD in Psychology in 2011. She was awarded the International Society for Humor Studies Certificate of Merit in 2008, and has a particular interest in humor in the workplace. Maren has a Masters of Education and a Bachelor of Science from The University of Melbourne and a Special Diploma in Education from the University of Oxford. Previously she jointly wrote the pre-degree Psychology Curriculum for Victorian schools, co-authored several pre-degree psychology textbooks, and taught at Methodist Ladies’ College, Melbourne for over twenty years.

Bruce Findlay

Bruce Findlay is an Adjunct Teaching Fellow in the Faculty of Health, Arts and Design at Swinburne University. He graduated PhD from The University of Melbourne in 1999. He is a social psychologist with research interests in humor and in interpersonal relationships, such as marriage and friendship.

Published Online: 2016-02-16

Published in Print: 2016-02-01

Citation Information: HUMOR, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2015-0097. Export Citation

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