Taiwanese lack sense of humor: survey

11/27/2019 08:32 PM
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Chen Hsueh-chih (陳學志, right), dean of university
Chen Hsueh-chih (陳學志, right), dean of university's College of Education.

Taipei, Nov. 27 (CNA) Taiwanese generally have a poor sense of humor compared with people in other countries, according to a poll released Wednesday by a professor at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU).

In the survey conducted by NTNU with other research teams in 25 countries and territories, Taiwanese ranked 15th in terms of sense of humor, while Italians topped the list, said Chen Hsueh-chih (陳學志), dean of university's College of Education.

The survey, which also distinguished between benign and hurtful humor, found that men in Taiwan lean more toward hurtful humor, while women go for a kinder type.

"This is partly because women are more compassionate," Chen said.

The poll ranked Taiwanese in 17th in terms of benign humor and 16th in the category of hurtful humor, according to Chen, who said the survey was part of an international research project being participated by him and his team.

He said benign humor tends to be beneficial to physical and mental health, while hurtful humor has the opposite effect.

In a marriage, if one partner uses hurtful humor to make fun of or to criticize the other, retaliation in similar vein can be expected, he said.

While self-depreciating humor is seen as acceptable and desirable in eastern cultures, this is generally not the case in western societies, reflecting cultural differences, he said.

"People in the east consider it virtuous to be humble and to maintain harmonious interpersonal relations," he said, adding that those observations were supported by a study that used Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) to determine how the human brain reacts to different types of humor.

The survey, conducted in 2018, collected 7,226 valid responses from people in the 25 countries and territories, including about 500 in Taiwan, according to Chen.

(By Emerson Lim)


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