Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Committee Director

Xiaohong (Violet) Xu

Committee Member

Konstantin Cigularov

Committee Member

Jing Chen


Although leader humor is a growing research topic, there are still unaddressed issues surrounding this topic. In particular, there is disagreement surrounding the conceptualizations of positive and negative leader humor, conflicting theoretical predictions and empirical findings on the effects of leader humor, a dearth of research on the antecedents and correlates of leader humor, as well as a lack of research on the boundary conditions of these relationships. This qualitative and quantitative review of the nomological networks of positive and negative leader humor addressed these issues based on a meta-analysis of 67 empirical studies (N = 21,121). Results indicate that positive and negative leader humor are better conceptualized as separate constructs rather than opposites on a spectrum. Additionally, follower trait positive affect is significantly related to positive leader humor but not negative leader humor. Demographic correlates have small or nonsignificant relationships with leader humor, while leadership style correlates (i.e., transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership), as well as positive and negative follower humor have stronger relationships. Regarding outcomes, positive leader humor has desirable outcomes (e.g., follower organizational citizenship behaviors), but it increases follower counterproductive work behaviors, whereas negative leader humor only has undesirable outcomes. The response format of leader humor measures and the publication status of empirical studies did moderate some of the relationships between leader humor and other variables. Practitioners should discourage negative humor and encourage positive leader humor while being cautious about increasing follower counterproductive work behaviors. Future researchers should consider utilizing longitudinal and experimental designs to better test the causal directions of the hypothesized relationships examined in this meta-analysis.


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