Psychometric Comparisons of Benevolent and Corrective Humor across 22 Countries: The Virtue Gap in Humor Goes International

Front Psychol. 2018 Feb 9;9:92. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00092. eCollection 2018.


Recently, two forms of virtue-related humor, benevolent and corrective, have been introduced. Benevolent humor treats human weaknesses and wrongdoings benevolently, while corrective humor aims at correcting and bettering them. Twelve marker items for benevolent and corrective humor (the BenCor) were developed, and it was demonstrated that they fill the gap between humor as temperament and virtue. The present study investigates responses to the BenCor from 25 samples in 22 countries (overall N = 7,226). The psychometric properties of the BenCor were found to be sufficient in most of the samples, including internal consistency, unidimensionality, and factorial validity. Importantly, benevolent and corrective humor were clearly established as two positively related, yet distinct dimensions of virtue-related humor. Metric measurement invariance was supported across the 25 samples, and scalar invariance was supported across six age groups (from 18 to 50+ years) and across gender. Comparisons of samples within and between four countries (Malaysia, Switzerland, Turkey, and the UK) showed that the item profiles were more similar within than between countries, though some evidence for regional differences was also found. This study thus supported, for the first time, the suitability of the 12 marker items of benevolent and corrective humor in different countries, enabling a cumulative cross-cultural research and eventually applications of humor aiming at the good.

Keywords: cross-cultural comparisons; humor; measurement invariance; positive psychology; virtue.