Michelle Matter’s paper published in Communication Quarterly

Ph.D. student Michelle Matter has published the paper “Adding amusement to anxiety: Uses of humor in informal caregiver support groups” in Communication Quarterly.

Summary from Matter:

I analyzed support groups for informal caregivers of people with dementia, in which humor and laughter were fairly common. I sorted the laughter/humor instances into groups and looked at what those instances did to the interactions in which they occurred. Generally, support group participants used a bunch of different kinds of humor (e.g., jokes about themselves, jokes about their loved one with dementia, jokes/sarcasm about the caregiving situation, etc.). Many times, that helped them, as it allowed them to share their struggles with one another or give advice to each other without suggesting (intentionally or not) that the caregiver or advice recipient didn’t know what they were doing (i.e., let them “save face”). Sometimes, people used humor to support others or combat claims of incompetence, which helped boost people’s esteem. Yet, sometimes, the humor derailed the conversation and might have actually blocked advice/coping. Takeaway: there are different kinds of humor, and be careful what kinds/when you use them.