Is Loss a Laughing Matter?: A Study of Humor Reactions and Benign Violation Theory in the Context of Grief.
Year of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department or School/College
Heather Voorhees, Daisy Rooks
grief, humor, Benign Violation Theory, interpersonal relationships
University of Montana
Arts and Humanities
Death is not commonly considered a humorous topic; however, bereaved individuals often joke about their loss. The jokes grievers tell while grieving have been overlooked within research, resulting in a limited understanding of how this communication impacts those hearing it. This research sought to eliminate that gap by building an understanding of the interpersonal effects of grief-based humor through the lens of Benign Violation Theory. Twenty-two individuals participated in semi-structured interviews that revolved around whether humor could be found in grief and how this humor affected their relationship with the bereaved. The interviews identified that when a bereaved individual uses tenets Benign Violations (such as alternative meanings to a joke’s subject matter) humor can be found within jokes about loss. Further, the participants primarily felt closer to the bereaved individual through an increase of trust and value within their relationship and newfound ease of communication surrounding the loss.
Henrich, Miranda B., "Is Loss a Laughing Matter?: A Study of Humor Reactions and Benign Violation Theory in the Context of Grief." (2022). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 11887.
© Copyright 2022 Miranda B. Henrich