Bitter laughter may be a part of one’s reaction to being wronged, but humor is probably the last thing on one’s mind when they struggle to forgive.
(Schadenfreude, now that’s a different story.)
However, research shows that your style of humor may correlate with your likelihood of forgiving someone who has wronged you. In particular:
- self-enhancing humor (eg, an absurdist view which sees the humor in a situation to cheer yourself up) significantly positively predicted the total Forgiveness Scale (which includes the Presence of Positive and the Absence of Negative subscales and is based on how the person actually forgives) and the Forgiveness Likelihood Scale (which is based on hypothetical situations)
- conversely, self-defeating humor (eg, making yourself the butt of jokes to make others laugh) significantly negatively predicted the total Forgiveness Scale, but did not significantly predict the Forgiveness Likelihood Scale
The authors suggest that the correlation between self-enhancing humor and perspective-taking empathy may explain why people with self-enhancing humor also had positive measures of forgiveness. In my view, this perspective-taking empathy and what feeds it is a fascinating aspect. It may well draw the line that starts to divide the realists and the self-professed surrealists…