Graduation Date

Summer 2022

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Psychology, option Academic Research

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Amber Gaffney

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Amanda Hahn

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Christopher Walmsley

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff


Social identity theory, Humor, Social psychology, Group identity, Leadership, Leaders, Psychology

Subject Categories



This research examines funny functions of shared group membership – how content that clearly demarcates ingroup membership may be at the root of humor. Participants in this study listened to a recording of a stand-up comedian who was defined as being either a fellow college/university student (ingroup) or a non-college student (outgroup). Additionally, the audio either contained audience laughter or no audience laughter. Upon finishing the recordings, participants were asked to answer survey questions about their experience with the comedian, rate their overall sense of shared group identity with the comedian, their level of positive affect, distinctiveness from an outgroup, and the strength of their identification as a college student. I predicted that an ingroup comedian would create a greater shared identity for participants (with college), increase group identification with “college”, and increase positive affect in comparison to an out-group comedian. Moreover, this work sought to conceptualize comedians as identity-based leaders, thus I predicted that participants exposed to an ingroup comedian would view the comedian as a more effective “identity leader” (see Steffens et al., 2014) than those exposed to an outgroup comedian. To test this, 253 participants were recruited through Amazon Cloud Research. The primary hypotheses were somewhat supported, such that participants displayed higher levels of distinctiveness from an outgroup when listening to an ingroup comedian as well as rated a “funny” comedian as making their identity as a college student matter to them (see Results section). The results of this study suggest that humor plays a role in how we perceive an ingroup member to play the part of a leader when we find them funny.

Citation Style




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