Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Laughing Matters: The Impact of Family Humor on Associations between Family Communication Environments and Family Satisfaction
by DiDomenico, Sara Ryan, Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2012, 105; 3508284
Abstract (Summary)

Humor is a pervasive and consequential form of communication. The social functions of humor can influence the tenor and character of personal relationships. Considering this potential, it is intriguing that the functions of humor among family members remain largely unexplored. Communication researchers have yet to confront the nuances of family humor and the subsequent impact on family relationships. Humor has the capacity to build rapport as well as signal aggression, and so the ways in which humor is used within families may affect relational quality. Moreover, communication norms might differentially impact humor use across families. These family communication environments (Fitzpatrick & Ritchie, 1994) are likely to influence the functions of family humor use. Given that previous research finds such elements of humor to influence the quality of individuals' relationships (e.g., Butzer & Kuiper, 2008; De Koning & Weiss, 2002), it is likely that humor functions will also impact family members' feelings of satisfaction. This study investigates the ways in which different family communication environments influence humor use among family members, which in turn impacts the quality of family relationships. Specifically, humor functions were hypothesized to mediate associations between family communication environments and family satisfaction. A survey questionnaire was utilized to assess these relationships, and two methods of recruiting participants were employed. First, undergraduate students completed the survey in exchange for research credit. Second, a snowball sample was utilized in which the researcher contacted friends and family to solicit participation. These methods yielded a sample of 117 participants. To test the hypotheses, regression analyses were conducted. Several significant hypothesized relationships emerged: expressiveness was positively related to positive humor; structural traditionalism and conflict avoidance were positively related to negative humor; conflict avoidance was positively related to instrumental humor; positive humor was positively related to family satisfaction; and negative humor was inversely related to family satisfaction. In addition, a path analysis revealed that positive humor partially mediated the association between expressiveness and family satisfaction. Limitations of the current research are discussed, as are implications and directions for future research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Roloff, Michael E.
Commitee: Arntson, Paul H., Galvin, Kathleen M.
School: Northwestern University
Department: Communication Studies
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 73/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Communication, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Communication, Family, Humor, Satisfaction
Publication Number: 3508284
ISBN: 978-1-267-33950-8
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