Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA in Psychology



First Advisor

Wilson McDermut

Second Advisor

Ernest Hodges


Previous research studies evaluated self-enhancing humor (also referred to as coping humor) as a coping strategy that enables an individual to better manage the negative emotions elicited by external stressors. Research has not, however, adequately considered the role that humor may play for neurotic individuals who are characterized by a propensity to experience stress and negative emotions and are, therefore, more susceptible to developing depression, anxiety, and low life satisfaction. Nor has research adequately explored how self-enhancing humor interacts with the maladaptive form of self-directed humor, namely, self-defeating humor. This study attempts to address these lacunae by analyzing whether self-enhancing humor and self-defeating humor serve as moderators of the relationships between neuroticism and aversive outcomes, such as depression, anxiety, and low life satisfaction. The study sample included 206 total participants, comprised of 99 adults from the general population and 107 college undergraduate students. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that self-enhancing humor moderated the impact of neuroticism on life satisfaction, regardless of the level of self-defeating humor. Highly neurotic individuals who used high levels of self-enhancing humor maintained higher ratings of life satisfaction than highly neurotic individuals who used low levels of self-enhancing humor. The regression analyses also indicated that the use of self-enhancing humor mitigated the impact of neuroticism on anxiety, but only for individuals who used low levels of self-defeating humor. In contrast, the use of both self enhancing and self-defeating humor compounded the impact of neuroticism on anxiety. Neither humor style significantly moderated the relation between neuroticism and depression. These results indicate that self-enhancing humor mitigates the effect of neuroticism on certain negative outcomes, that the two self-directed humor styles interact and should both be considered in any study of self-directed humor, and that the overall amount of self-directed humor an individual uses may be a crucial factor in determining whether humor will mitigate or compound the impact of neuroticism.