How does psychopathy relate to humor and laughter? Dispositions toward ridicule and being laughed at, the sense of humor, and psychopathic personality traits

Int J Law Psychiatry. 2012 Jul-Aug;35(4):263-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2012.04.007. Epub 2012 May 3.


This scoping study examines the relation of the sense of humor and three dispositions toward ridicule and being laughed at to psychopathic personality traits. Based on self-reports from 233 adults, psychopathic personality traits were robustly related to enjoying laughing at others, which most strongly related to a manipulative/impulsive lifestyle and callousness. Higher psychopathic traits correlated with bad mood and it existed independently from the ability of laughing at oneself. While overall psychopathic personality traits existed independently from the sense of humor, the facet of superficial charm yielded a robust positive relation. Higher joy in being laughed at also correlated with higher expressions in superficial charm and grandiosity while fearing to be laughed at went along with higher expressions in a manipulative life-style. Thus, the psychopathic personality trait could be well described in its relation to humor and laughter. Implications of the findings are highlighted and discussed with respect to the current literature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Laughter / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory / standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wit and Humor as Topic*
  • Young Adult