My colleague (Yongdeuk Choi, Assistant Professor at Chonnam University, Korea), Professor Dongseop Lee (Korea University), and I were intrigued by the fact that humor can be either helpful or harmful. We posited that the positive affect-inducing potential of humor is tapped when the recipients of humor reads prosocial intentions behind the humor from the cognitive displays of positive resources. Specifically, we hypothesized that it is when a leader uses humor in a state of hope, efficacy, optimism, and resilience that humor benefits the group performance, by signaling encouraging motivations for humor use. We assumed that the psychological states are smeared on non-verbal/verbal expressions and behaviors, and by the nature of status difference, that followers are prone to make sense of their leader’s states. Moreover, we hypothesized that this effective use of humor engenders affective commitment to leader and group, promoting interpersonal connectedness and internalization of the common goal.
This research was presented at Korean Academy of Management in Seoul, and was covered by Maeil Business Newspaper, the first ranking business daily in Korea.