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Abstract

It was hypothesized that humor-oriented people emerge from a pattern of distance in family relationships. Using Moos's (1974) Family Environment Scale (FES) and Kuethe's (1962) figure-placement technique, the family experience of 88 Boy Scouts was assessed. Through a peer nomination technique nonhumor-oriented, middle, and humor-oriented groups were formed. As predicted, the humor-oriented group exhibited lower cohesion scores (p <.01) and greater conflict scores (p <.10) on the FES and greater distance from father in the figure placement (p <.05). A subgroup of humor-oriented boys receiving high ratings for funniness displayed similar though somewhat more general patterns of family distance. Humor orientation was modestly associated with popularity but not with age, birth order, or number of siblings. A family-distance model of humor orientation was proposed which views humor as an attempt to relate from a distance. This framework appears to be consistent with a variety of earlier findings pertaining to the psychology of humor.