A meta-analysis of positive humor in the workplace


This paper examines the role of positive humor in the workplace through a meta-analysis of 49 different studies. 

The authors found that positive humor is associated with a variety of desirable workplace outcomes, including enhanced work performance, satisfaction, and team cohesion, as well as decreased burnout, stress, and work withdrawal.

These findings have implications for how organizations should value humor both in their selection process and their company culture.

Key Points:

  • Humor is difficult to define, but can generally be described by its focus (self-directed v. outward-directed) and its nature (positive v. negative).
  • Organizations like Southwest Airlines that have incorporated measures of humor within their selection systems have reported impressive results.
  • Cultivating humor in the workplace is encouraged but has to be approached with prudence given the potential for negative humor.


Organizations should find ways to screen for positive humor in candidates and then cultivate it in their workplaces.

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