Friday Factoids: The Power of (and Potential Problems with) Humor


Do psychologists have a sense of humor? Was Johnny Carson the “King of late night television?” Of course! I rest my case.


Seriously though, humor in the work place has been a tremendous outlet for stress reduction. We all have read how laughter improves mood or increases satisfaction. While all of this has been supported in current literature, one has to be careful that the humor is not in “poor taste.”  Scott (2014) mentioned that “approximately 70% of individuals surveyed said that workplace jokes concentrated on making fun of co-workers based on elements such as age, sexual orientation and weight.”  Remember, what may be funny to you can be perceived by others as inappropriate.


I close with appropriate office humor taken verbatim from Burton (2014):

1. Two psychotherapists pass each other in the hallway. The first says to the second, “Hello!” The second smiles back nervously and half nods his head. When he is comfortably out of earshot, he mumbles, “God, I wonder what that was all about?”


2. Receptionist to psychologist: “Doctor, there’s a patient here who thinks he’s invisible.”
“Tell him I can’t see him right now.”


3. There are three guys going through an exit interview at a mental hospital. The doctor says he can release them if they can answer the simple mathematical problem: What is 8 times 5?

The first patient says, “139.”

The second one says, “Wednesday.”

The third says, “What a stupid question. It’s obvious: The answer is 40.”

The doctor is delighted. He gives the guy his release. As the man is leaving, the doctor asks how he came up with the correct answer so quickly.

“It was easy, Doc. I just divided Wednesday into 139.”


4. A Stanford research group advertised for participants in a study of obsessive-compulsive disorder. They were looking for therapy clients who had been diagnosed with this disorder. The response was gratifying; they got 3,000 responses about three days after the ad came out. All from the same person.



Burton, N. (2014). The Very Best Psychology Jokes: Top 21 psychology, psychotherapy, and psychiatry jokes. Retrieved from


Psychology humor—clinical (n.d.) Retrieved from


Scott, E. (2014). Workplace Humor: How to reduce stress with inoffensive office humor. Retrieved from


David J. Wright, MA., MSW
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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