Jokes Can Make You Look More Competent at Work.
To make yourself seem like a more competent person around the office, you should do a little stand-up at the water cooler, according to a new study spotted by BPS Research Digest.
But be sure to judge your audience well, because an ill-timed or misguided attempt at humor could land you in hot water.
In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology [PDF], researchers from the Wharton School and Harvard Business School discovered, through eight different experiments, that humor can signal confidence, whether the jokes land or not.
And perceptions of confidence tend to make people see others as competent.
First, researchers used a pool of 457 people to determine how appropriate people perceived nine different jokes to be.
They then used these results in a series of subsequent experiments, which involved participants being serious or humorous in front of an audience, telling different jokes that were either funny or not funny, and manipulating audience laughter to see if people responded differently to comments they thought other people found funny.
“Successful joke tellers are viewed as higher in confidence, competence, and status, and are more likely to be nominated as group leaders,” they concluded.
They found if the jokes were inappropriate (the “that’s what she said” variety of joke did not fare well), however, or if no one laughed at them, it could decrease the status of the teller, making people see them as less competent.
“Ultimately, our prescriptive advice is to use humor with caution.” →
Most titles we use in front of people’s names in English are abbreviations of longer words.
Dr. stands for doctor, Mr. for mister, and Mrs. for mistress (though we stopped pronouncing it that way).
What does Ms. stand for?
The title Ms. was made up, not as a shortening of another word, but as a way to avoid commenting on the marital status of a woman.
Ms. did not become generally accepted as a title until well into the 1980s, after years of lobbying for its use by feminist activists.
It was noted that the pronunciation mizz, a sort of slurring indeterminacy between miss and missus, was already a common way to avoid making such a social blunder.
Ms. put a formal label on what people were already doing, though its acceptance in formal circles took nearly a century.
Have you got a Big Question you’d like us to answer?
If so, let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org →
Crying When We’re Happy May Help Us Regulate Our Emotions.
If weddings, graduation ceremonies, and cute animal commercials cause you to melt into a puddle of tears, take comfort: You’re not alone.
Nobody quite knows why some people cry when they’re happy, but in the video below, Business Insider’s Graham Flanagan explains why positive emotions may prompt us to turn on the waterworks.
They found that people who exhibited negative responses to positive things (like crying at a graduation) were able to moderate strong feelings more effectively than others.
“People may be restoring emotional equilibrium with these expressions,” Aragón said in a release.
Plus, you have to admit—a good cry can feel pretty good.
As Business Insider points out, emotional tears exhibit higher levels of stress hormones, and they also contain endorphins, a.k.a.
So go ahead, weep during that cereal commercial.
We won’t laugh at you. →
That Surprisingly Recent Time in British History When Husbands Sold Their Wives at Market.
Welcome to the wacky world of wife selling!
One of the earliest recorded wife sales took place in 1733, in Birmingham, central England.
The local paper of the day records how “Samuel Whitehouse…sold his wife, Mary Whitehouse, in open market, to Thomas Griffiths.
Wife-selling deals always followed the same very public ritual.
I wull be sold.
I wants a change.” In fact, almost all sales took place with the agreement of both husband and wife.
Wife selling killed two birds with one stone—it was the quickest of quickie ways to legally absolve a married couple from their responsibilities to one another, plus it provided some live street theater for the local community.
At times the husband would even use this fee to buy drinks for everyone in the local inn—including his ex-wife and her new husband.
This article is reprinted with permission from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges Into History (Again). →