There are all kinds of different forms of comedy, and everyone has their own sense of humor that may or may not resonate with everyone, but to others, can it actually be a reflection of how you’re feeling on the inside? This article will discuss the possible link between self-esteem and other mental health aspects of one’s humor by taking a look at some studies based on specific humor styles.

Your Humor Connected To Your Self-Esteem

Adaptive Humor Styles

The relationship between humor and happiness and self-esteem might be more apparent by taking a close look at different types of comedic styles.

Two separate research studies from 2014 made this link by examining hundreds of undergraduate students and using means such as the Roxsenberg Self-esteem Scale and the Subjective Happiness Scale and by providing a questionnaire to see what type of humor each student enjoyed most.

It was found that those with a higher or stable sense of self-esteem tend to use adaptive humor, which includes affiliative humor, which is jokes or stories that most people around them can enjoy, as well as self-enhancing humor, which is trying to see the bright side in life even when facing negative situations.

These styles are generally believed to be a healthy way to cope with everyday life by being a way to make themselves and others around them feel more comfortable.

Maladaptive Humor Styles

On the other hand, maladaptive humor styles tend to be dark, aggressive, or self-defeating, and while it’s without a doubt loved by millions of people, it’s been shown to be associated with lower or unstable self-esteem.

Aggressive humor tends to be based around insults or putting others down, and therefore is a strategy used by bullies; however, it’s also used during “roasts”. Nonetheless, there is always the potential for others to feel uncomfortable.

Self-defeating humor is the opposite of self-enhancing and it involves belittling oneself, or self-deprecation, to see if others will laugh. It’s always at one’s expense though, and while it might have its intended effect, it can sometimes be a way to mask one’s true feelings or avoid feeling hurt.

People who employ these styles of humor can be more likely to struggle with mental health issues like anxiety and depression and it can be used as a way to cope with what they are feeling internal, it’s generally not considered to be healthy and productive.

How To Increase Self-Esteem

While these results do show a connection between self-esteem and humor, it’s not 100% indicative; not everyone with maladaptive humor has a low sense of it, and sometimes it can be healthy.

However, self-esteem is something that every single person can keep improving on, but it’s crucial for people who do struggle with negative thoughts and feelings due to mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Humor can be an effective coping mechanism, but there are also other ways to boost your self-esteem. By talking to a counselor or therapist at BetterHelp, you can discover solutions that work for you and give you more satisfaction in life.

Whether it’s overcoming negative beliefs, finding fulfilling relationships with others, making physical changes, or finding activities that give you confidence and a sense of purpose, you can make a difference. It just requires accepting a helping hand from others at times.


Whether you use adaptive or maladaptive humor, it’s always good to have a laugh, but if you think your preferences might be due to something deeper, you are encouraged to reach out and talk about it with someone who understands. It’s possible you’re not aware that your experiences are influencing your sense of humor, but once you have a better understanding of why you use it, you can make changes that are appropriate to as well as the people around you.