I’m consistently surprised by how little research has been done in the field of humor, specifically its positive effects on our lives and behavior. Though, this new study from the Wharton School of Business entitled, Risky Business: When Humor Increases and Decreases Status, suggests that when humor is used appropriately at work, it increases your status. But if you tell an inappropriate or bad joke it will backfire and likely decrease your status. This isn’t a shocking scientific discovery, but interestingly they found that whether you tell a bad joke or a good joke it still increases your perceived confidence.
They also suggest that those who effectively use humor could even influence other people’s behaviors. In this interview, one of the authors of the study, T. Bradford Bitterly said, “One of the conclusions that I found particularly surprising was in our second study we found that someone who effectively used humor, they were not only perceived to be more confident, competent and higher in status, they were even more likely to be elected as a group leader for a subsequent task. So here we see humor not only influencing perceptions of one another, but even influencing behavior.”
So if your sights are set on a leadership role, it might be time to take a comedy class. Check out the details of the full study here.