How people react to “humour” differs widely. Some people are afraid of being laughed at. They interpret the laughter as something negative or derogative. Others enjoy being the centre of attention and intentionally provoke situations that make others laugh at and about them. Being laughed at to them is an expression of appreciation. Then there is the group that enjoys laughing at and about others, intentionally making them the butt of jokes or ridiculing.
“These three characteristics are personality traits that can occur at the same time, to varying degrees and in different combinations,” says psychologist Professor René Proyer from Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg.
“All of these characteristics are normal, up to a certain point — including being afraid of being laughed at,” he continues. “For example someone who likes to laugh about others may not like it when others laugh about them.”
When it comes to relationships, laughter plays a very important role whether or not it’s shared together or directed at the significant other.
If partners handle laughter or being laughed at in a similar way, they tend to be quite content with their relationship. People who are afraid of being laughed at, on the other hand, are often less happy in their relationship. This also affects their partner and their sexuality, concluded in a study recently published in the “Journal of Research in Personality.”
Psychologists from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) conducted online interviews with 154 heterosexual couples. They observed that provoking others to laugh at you primarily has positive effects.
“Women reported more often that they tended to be satisfied with their relationship and felt more attracted to their partner. They and their partners also tended to be equally satisfied with their sex life,” says researcher Kay Brauer.
Being afraid of being laughed at, on the other hand, tended to have negative effects: people who have this fear are less content in their relationship and also tend to mistrust their partner. This also has consequences for the partner.
“Men said more frequently that they did not really feel satisfied with their sex life if their partner was afraid of being laughed at” Brauer continues.
The psychologists did not find this kind of interdependence with regard to relationship contentment when it came to people who like to ridicule others. However, the couples tended to argue more often.
“That is hardly surprising, considering that these people often go too far and make derisive comments which can then lead to an argument” Brauer says.
Of course, there is more to a successful relationship in which partners experience happiness. However, knowing whether one of the two partners in a relationship is afraid of being laughed at could be useful information.