Am I the Only One This Supervisor is Laughing at? Effects of Aggressive Humor on Employee Strain and Addictive Behaviors

Yuanyuan Huo, Kwok Yee Wing Lam, Ziguang Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Prior literature on humor primarily documents its positive effects on employees' attitudes and behaviors, though increasing research on aggressive humor suggests some conflicting viewpoints. This paper proposes a model based on social comparison and attribution theories to examine the influence of supervisors' aggressive humor on employees' strain and addictive behaviors. The tests of the research model entailed a 2-wave study with 243 frontline employees from 4 manufacturing companies of a group corporation in China. The results showed that supervisors' aggressive humor with employees related positively to employees' strain. This positive association became stronger when the supervisors did not use aggressive humor with the peers of the focal employees. Employees' strain mediated the interactive effects of supervisors' aggressive humor with the focal employees and those with their peers on employees' addictive behaviors (e.g., problematic use of Internet, alcohol, and tobacco). As well as having practical implications, this study offers theoretical insights for research into humor, leadership, and addictive behaviors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-885
Number of pages27
JournalPersonnel Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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