The Psychology behind Self-Deprecating Humour

The Psychology behind Self-Deprecating Humour

Self-deprecating humour is something we all probably indulge in from time to time. It feels great to poke fun at yourself and not take life too seriously.
But what does science say about self-deprecating jokes? Do they actually make us feel better about ourselves, or are they bad for our mental health? 

Benefits of Self-Deprecating humour

1. Makes you appear more attractive 
Studies have shown that people with self-deprecating humour appear more physically attractive, especially if they’re men. 
People who aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves appear more humble, down-to-earth, and approachable, thus making them appear more attractive overall. You show people you’re friendly and don’t think of yourself as better than everyone. 
2. You’d make a better leader
One study revealed that individuals who make self-deprecating jokes are better leaders. This is because they tend to be more self-aware and tend to hold themselves accountable for their actions. People see these types of individuals as vulnerable, trustworthy, and approachable.
3. Deprecation cancels out insults
Deprecation is a great way to respond to insults from other people. 
Usually, when someone insults you, they expect you to get angry and defensive. When you give in to the reaction they want and are expecting, they may be entertained by your anger. Besides, they are purposely trying to get a rise out of you.
If you show that you can handle insults and laugh at yourself, you’ll throw the other person off guard. If you join in and insult yourself, you lessen the blow. They probably won’t use that insult again, as they see it has little to no effect on you. 
4. Improves your mental health
Mocking yourself releases any expectations of yourself. Self-deprecating humour teaches us that we aren’t perfect and that that’s ok. 
Recent studies have also shown that levels of happiness and sociability increase when you poke fun at yourself. 

Negatives of self-deprecating humour

1. You start to appear pessimistic, insecure and have low self-esteem
People usually associate the way you speak about yourself with how you actually see yourself. If you’re constantly bringing yourself down, even in a joking manner, people may see you as a negative, insecure person. Using these jokes in moderation can help prevent this.
2. You teach people how to speak about you
If you constantly bring yourself down, you’re actually teaching people what kind of language you tolerate about yourself. They could start making those same jokes about you, and soon, those jokes might not seem like jokes anymore.
People often assume the way you speak about yourself is the way you feel about yourself. I’ve found myself thinking that my friends who overly self-deprecate truly believe these things about themselves. They end up being surprised when people assume they hate themselves. 
3. You’ll start believing your jokes
Words have meaning. Words have power. When you repeat something to yourself enough, you’ll start to believe it, eventually. 
I used to love self-deprecating humour but found my self-esteem becoming worse and worse over time. I wasn’t sure what was causing it, but then I did some research on the power of words.
Once I cut out most self-deprecating jokes, I found my confidence and overall happiness go up immensely.

Natalie Lyczek

23-year-old freelancer and content creator from the GTA.

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