Reciprocity between humour and peer victimization

Claire Fox, Simon C. Hunter, Sian Jones

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Peer-victimization is a serious social difficulty for many young people, and involves complex interpersonal and group dynamics. Humor can strengthen and develop relationships, but is likely to require a supportive interpersonal and social context for positive forms to develop. Peer-victimization endangers such development, and provides a useful context within which to evaluate humor development. Among adolescents (Fox et al., in press) there are four main humor styles, two are adaptive (affiliative and self-enhancing) and two are maladaptive (aggressive and self-defeating). Klein and Kuiper (2006) theorized that victimized children have fewer peer-interaction opportunities and so may be disadvantaged with respect to the development of adaptive humor styles. They further suggested that victims may internalize bullies’ negative comments, leading to a self-defeating humor style. Furthermore, self-defeating humor is considered to reflect an underlying neediness and low self-esteem. Given that low self-regard has been identified as a risk factor for peer-victimization (Egan & Perry, 1998), a vicious circle between self-defeating humor and peer-victimization may develop. The present study applied a cross-lagged panel design to begin disentangling directionality in the relationships between humor and victimization. Overall, 1,235 young people aged 11-13 years from six secondary schools in England provided self-reports of direct and indirect victimization, and of their humor styles. These were completed at the beginning and end of the school year. Using AMOS 20.0, a full cross-lagged model was tested. The model displayed acceptable fit, CMIN/DF = 2.040, CFI = .907, RMSEA = .029. Indirect victimization was found to predict an increase in young people’s use of self-defeating humor. Humor did impact upon later victimization with self-defeating humor leading to an increase in both direct and indirect peer victimization. The implications of these results for theory relating to humor and victimization are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2013
Event16th European Conference on Developmental Psychology - University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Duration: 3 Sept 20137 Sept 2013


Conference16th European Conference on Developmental Psychology


  • peer-victimization
  • adaptive humour styles
  • maladaptive humour styles


Dive into the research topics of 'Reciprocity between humour and peer victimization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this