Preliminary Verification of Instructional Humor Processing Theory: Mediators Between Instructor Humor and Student Learning

Psychol Rep. 2020 Dec;123(6):2538-2550. doi: 10.1177/0033294119868799. Epub 2019 Aug 5.


Instructional humor processing theory has been proposed to explain how the type of humor used by the course instructor can affect student learning. In this study, a cross-sectional design was used to test whether the relation between the instructor's type of humor (related, unrelated, self-disparaging, offensive, and disparaging humor), and learning is mediated by variables assumed by the instructional humor processing theory (emotion, motivation, and information-processing ability). A total of 360 university and junior college students with a mean age of 19.31 years (standard deviation = 0.75) completed a questionnaire concerning their impression on the instructor humor, emotion, motivation, processing ability, and cognitive learning in a specific course. The results revealed that the instructor's-related humor significantly predicted the cognitive learning of students, and their relation can be mediated by all variables assumed by instructional humor processing theory. Our results provided preliminary evidence for the legitimacy of the instructional humor processing theory model.

Keywords: Affect; cognitive learning; humor; instructional humor processing theory; motivation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emotions
  • Faculty / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Students / psychology*
  • Universities
  • Wit and Humor as Topic / psychology*
  • Young Adult