Humor has a function that plays an important role in all kinds of relationships. In new relationships, it can be an effective tool for bonding and overcoming any awkwardness or embarrassment. In established relationships, it can keep the excitement going and help overcome past conflicts, disagreements and small problems that can build up over time.
Sharing the joy of humor creates a sense of closeness and connection between people. These qualities define successful relationships. In fact, when you laugh with each other, a positive bond forms between you. This unity acts as a buffer against the stress, disagreements, frustrations and negative points that often occur in a relationship.
The social power of humor
Humor can help you build a stronger bond with others. In fact, health and happiness largely depend on the quality of relationships, and laughter brings people together.
Humor also serves to smooth differences and diffuse tensions. In fact, using it often helps to overcome even the most sensitive issues. Also, a well-timed joke can help defuse a tense situation and resolve minor disagreements.
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On the other hand, it can help overcome problems and setbacks and put things in perspective. It is the key to resilience as it helps you overcome difficulties. In fact, most situations are not that cruel if you look at them with a sense of humor. It helps you reframe problems that might otherwise seem quite overwhelming.
Finally, it’s worth noting that humor helps you to be more creative. It energizes your thinking and can inspire you to use creative solutions to solve problems with others.
Functions of humor according to Avner Ziv
The main functions of humor, both personal and social, are summarized by Avner Ziv in his book Personality and Sense of Humor (1984) as follows:
1. Safety valve for social taboos
Humor provides an outlet for the expression of taboo thinking, especially on topics related to sex and violence. These are natural needs and tendencies that should be socially regulated, but wholesale suppression is unrealistic.
Just as watching or participating in a boxing match provides a socially acceptable outlet for aggressive impulses, humor is a controlled release of impulses that pose a potential threat to civilized society.
2. Social criticism
According to David L. Paletz, satire is a form of humor in which social and political institutions are ridiculed and humanized. This can only be a way to release tension and thus lead to change in the system.
Given that one of the main causes of aggression is frustration, it is not surprising that people who frustrate our goals and pleasures are the main targets of humor. For example, judges, police officers, government officials, parents, teachers and others in authority.
3. Consolidation of membership in a group
When you laugh at other people’s jokes, you are affirming shared values or prejudices, sharing attitudes, or sharing in hostilities. Indeed, knowing that other people think the same way as you do, that you can share your problems and experiences, is an important source of humorous pleasure.
At the same time, the victimizing aspect of humor is one of the reasons why it can easily become offensive. It can also be a way of bringing members of a group into line with the norms of the group.
4. A defense against fear and anxiety
By laughing at things that scare you, you feel that you have them under control and that they are less threatening. In this sense, dark humor or jokes about disasters function as a defense mechanism.
Here, the figure of self-deprecation or laughing at oneself fits quite well, as it is equally adaptable.
5. An intellectual game
Humor can also be primarily intellectual. It gives you a momentary freedom from the tyranny of logical thinking. It allows you to escape the confines of reality and enjoy your capacity for originality and creativity. Any analysis that ignores this more advanced and human function of humor is bound to be limited.