Using humor and boosting emotions: an affect-based study of managerial humor, employees’ emotions and psychological capital

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence from emerging scholarly investigations consistently points to managerial humor as fruitful new grounds to expand management knowledge and practice. In light of this, the present study examined managerial humor as an affective event at work that has short-term emotional and long-term psychological outcomes for employees. To test this empirically, we recruited a sample of 2498 Australian employees to participate in a field experience sampling study. We also considered the potential moderating effect of leader–member exchange on the humor–emotions relationship. Findings provide initial support for managerial humor as an affective event such that when employees perceived their manager’s humor as positive they reported experiencing positive emotions, and vice versa. Importantly, employees with high-quality relationships with their managers responded to their manager’s humor use with a greater number of positive emotions and fewer negative emotions than did employees with low-quality relationships with their managers. We argue that humor is an event that managers must responsibly manage in order to produce positive emotional experiences for employees and support healthy emotion regulation at work. We also discuss the conditions under which it is advisable for managers to use humor with employees, and suggest future research directions to develop this growing field of inquiry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1316-1341
Number of pages26
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • affective events theory (AET)
  • broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions
  • experience sampling
  • leader–member exchange (LMX)
  • managerial humor
  • psychological capital (PsyCap)

Cite this