Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology



First Advisor

Kevin Meehan

Committee Chair and Members

Kevin Meehan, Chair

Philip Wong

Marie C Brown


Conflict resolution, Couples, Dyads, Humor


Research indicates that finding a way to exit maladaptive, cyclical exchanges during conflict is one of the greatest challenges for members of a dyad “stuck” in these patterns. Humor has been highlighted by positive psychology proponents as an adaptive tool in social functioning and a successful coping strategy. Humor use functions through a cognitive reappraisal mechanism, and is one such way to mitigate conflict in dyads. The current study expands upon prior findings by evaluating the relationship between relationship satisfaction, styles of humor used, and responses to interpersonal conflict (level of distress and perceived closeness) within the relationship. The present study standardized in-the-moment conflict experimentally by using Cyberball to simulate rejection in the dyad, and sought to generalize findings regarding humor use across a variety of dyads beyond just romantic partners. Analyses evaluated outcomes both related to individuals independently, and related to actor-partner interdependence. Results demonstrated a significant actor effect of affiliative humor use on change in feelings of closeness in a subsample of romantic partners only, such that as affiliative humor increased, feelings of closeness remained similar to those reported at baseline. Multiple regression demonstrated that self-enhancing and self-defeating humor were significant unique predictors of cognitive reappraisal and each accounted for a large portion of variance. Finally, an analysis of “in-the-moment” humor use, which was determined by emoji selected to be sent to a study partner following ostracism, demonstrated that self-defeating humor had a significantly more adverse impact on decreased feelings of closeness following ostracism as compared to self-enhancing humor.

Included in

Psychology Commons