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Diane Dzodin
May 1998


The Effects of Humor on Perceptions of Organizational Conflict


This study investigated using humor as a tool for managing organizational conflict.  The effects of self-deprecating, aggressive and nondirectional humor on perceptions of conflict were examined.  Also examined was whether these effects were moderated by gender.  Upper-division psychology students read a conflictive workplace scenario.  Three groups were each presented a joke representing one of the different types of humor at the conclusion of the scenario.  The control group read the scenario with no humor interjected.

Results showed that humor did not produce more positive overall perceptions of conflict.  No gender differences were found.  Three separate areas of perceived conflict were considered: degree of conflict, interaction and communication, and successful task accomplishment.  It was found that aggressive humor generated more positive perceptions of interaction and communication than self-deprecating humor.  This finding indicates that aggressive humor may be beneficial in establishing group cohesion when directed toward an out-group.

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