Negative humor styles are associated with rumination, aggression, and suicidal ideation. BPD features are positively associated with negative humor styles; however, few studies have identified factors that mediate this relationship. The present study examines mindfulness skills as a mediator of the link between BPD features and negative humor styles, in a sample of undergraduate students (N = 197), many reporting clinically significant levels of BPD features. Significant indirect effects suggest that individuals with higher BPD features engage in more aggressive humor style partially due to lower levels of nonreactivity. However, individuals with higher BPD features engage in more self-defeating humor style partially due to lower levels of acting with awareness. Higher BPD features were related to less positive humor styles partially due to low describe scores. These findings suggest that different facets of mindfulness skills may assist in decreasing negative and increasing positive humor styles.
Effectively using humor is important to a variety of psychological processes and outcomes of wellbeing including strong interpersonal relationships (e.g., Romero & Cruthirds, 2006; Sherman, 1998), healthy identity formation (Kuiper, Kirsh, & Maiolino, 2016), and effective emotion regulation and coping strategies (e.g., Harm, Vieillard, & Didierjean, 2014; Lefcourt & Martin, 1986). As evidence for the scientific value of humor mounts, the measurement and operationalization of the construct has become a priority. The Humor Styles Questionnaire (HSQ; Martin, Puhlik-Doris, Larsen, Gray, & Weir, 2003) is a self-report measure that identifies four basic humor styles: affiliative (strengthening relationships by entertaining others with humor), self-enhancing (coping with stressful events using humor), aggressive (reinforcing the self by demeaning others with humor), and self-defeating (attempting to strengthen social relationships by demeaning the self). Affiliative and self-enhancing humor styles are broadly considered to be healthy processes and are positively associated with psychological wellbeing (Kuiper et al., 2016; Martin et al., 2003) and negatively associated with anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and interpersonal predictors of suicide (e.g., Frewen, Brinker, Martin, & Dozois, 2008; Martin et al., 2003; Tucker et al., 2013; Tucker et al., 2013). In contrast, aggressive and self-defeating humor styles are positively associated with rumination, suicidal ideation (Tucker, Wingate, et al., 2013), hostility, aggression, depression, and anxiety (e.g., Frewen et al., 2008; Martin et al., 2003), and negatively associated with self-esteem and overall psychological well-being (Martin et al., 2003; Stieger, Formann, & Burger, 2011). Aggressive humor style damages interpersonal relationships and interferes with effective conflict resolution (Campbell, Martin, & Ward, 2008; Hall, 2011). In addition, self-defeating humor style is conceptualized as a form of denial or as a defense mechanism protecting from negative feelings about the self (Martin et al., 2003). In summary, humor styles are distinct approaches to regulating emotional and interpersonal situations with links to many clinically relevant outcomes.