Humor as a Facilitator of Intimacy in Developing Friendships
This dissertation examined the role of humor in friendship development between previously unacquainted same-sex strangers. Specifically, it consisted of two studies investigating whether humor can be used as a form of self-disclosure in initial interactions, and whether it contributes to the development of feelings of intimacy over time. Chapter 2 employed an online experimental design wherein humor use and levels of disclosure were manipulated in vignettes describing conversations with a same-sex acquaintance to explore whether people perceive more self-disclosure from others when conversations contain humor. Participants did perceive more self-disclosure from the acquaintance when the conversation contained humor compared to when it did not, though this was only the case for conversations centered around a superficial topic. In conversations centered around a more intimate topic, participants perceived less self-disclosure when the acquaintance used humor that was positive in nature. Chapter 3 used a dyadic, longitudinal design to further examine whether humor can serve as a means of self-disclosure, and how humor contributes to the development of feelings of intimacy over time in previously unacquainted same-sex individuals. Results suggested that humor generally did not relate to selfdisclosure in initial interactions, nor did it contribute to the interpersonal process model of intimacy in developing friendships. Overall, these studies suggest that further research is needed to explore potential mechanisms through which humor contributes to same-sex friendship development.