Today Charlotte Stuart author of Survival Can Be Deadly, a Discount Detective mystery, is joining us at Ascroft, eh? to talk about Your Myers-Briggs Type and Your Sense of Humor.
Welcome, Charlotte. I’ll turn the floor over to you:
Laughter is universal across cultures. Humans start developing a sense of humor as early as six weeks old. It even exists in some animals. Primates, dogs, crows, parrots, rats, elephants, and dolphins are often mentioned in studies by researchers of humor in the animal kingdom. We all have the ability to laugh, but we don’t all end up laughing at the same things.
As a consultant I was certified in Myers-Briggs and used the assessment to look at teamwork and help resolve conflicts in the workplace. I renewed my interest in the personality inventory when, as a writer of humorous mysteries, I was trying to better understand how readers relate to humor. Although I didn’t come up with anything concrete to help me finetune my writing, I did find it helpful to better understand how personalities drive humor preferences. For one thing, it made me more accepting of criticism. What one person might label as hilarious, another might find trite. Not only can this be explained by the quality of the writing, but sometimes by the reader/writer relationship to humor.
It’s estimated that more than 50 million people have taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Although some contend it isn’t as accurate as other assessments because it was developed through clinical observation rather than controlled research, it nevertheless provides a unique starting point from which to explore the reasons for differences in our responses to humor.
Here’s the quick and dirty explanation of the Myers-Briggs approach of looking at personality variations within four basic functions.
- Introversion (I) & Extraversion (E)
Do we get our energy more from ideas or from people? For instance, do you come home from a party exhausted or energized?
- Intuition (N) & Sensing (S)
Do you look for patterns and the big picture? Or do you prefer details and hands-on experience?
- Feeling (F) & Thinking (T)
Do you consider people and emotions when making decisions or do you prefer relying solely on facts and data?
- Perception (P) & Judging (J)
Are you flexible and adaptable or do you prefer structure and closure?
If you haven’t taken this assessment, the simple explanations above probably don’t explain everything you need to know to understand how your Myers-Briggs type connects to your sense of humor. But you may find it revealing to know that these kinds of differences exist and can predict – to some extent – what we laugh at.
The Myers-Briggs Inventory starts with the four functions and combines them to create sixteen personality types. Psychologists have connected these types to their humor preferences.
ISTJ – dry, meticulous
INTJ – sarcastic and cynical
INFJ – dark
ISFJ – hidden but surprising playful
ISTP – ironic or deadpan
ISFP – wide range, self-mocking
INFP – touch of the absurd, offbeat
INTP – can make almost anything funny
ESTP – broadly funny can be goofy
ESFP – light-hearted wit
ENTP – outrageous, extra dark
ENFP – playful and colorful
ESTJ – aggressive and shocking
ESFJ – adaptable to others
ENFJ – adaptive, appreciate dark and sarcastic observations
ENTJ – edgy and outrageous
Although I resist labels in general, I have to admit that my “type” and the humor I supposedly prefer, is right on.
A few observations:
- Although some labels may seem negative – like “aggressive and shocking,” when you think about films such as Fargo, how else would you describe that type of humor?
- I find it interesting that those types where people get their energy from other people also like to “adapt” to others, perhaps laughing at the same jokes when in a group.
- Many of the introverts seem to find wordplay and irony appealing; whereas extroverts appear to prefer more playful humor, or, in some cases, exaggerated or dramatic humor.
Maya Angelou said: “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.” She was an amazing writer with a wonderful, hearty laugh. Hopefully, in this chaotic world that is often fraught with negativity, we can find relief and comfort through laughter. And although I’m biased, I would suggest humorous mysteries as an excellent source of distraction and amusement You just have to find the right type of humor to tickle your funny bone.
Thanks for introducing yourself to us, Charlotte, with your explanation of how readers’ sense of humour impacts their enjoyment of mysteries that have a humorous element.
The novel is available online at Amazon.
About Charlotte Stuart: In a world filled with uncertainty and too little chocolate, Charlotte Stuart, PhD, has taught college courses in communication, gone commercial fishing in Alaska, and was the VP of HR and Training for a large credit union. Her current passion is for writing lighthearted mysteries with a pinch of adventure and a dollop of humor. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys watching herons, eagles, seals and other sea life from her Vashon Island home office.