Educational Research Journal


2008.第23卷第2期(Vol. 23 No. 2).pp. 299–326


The Chinese Attitudes to Humor: Views from Undergraduates in Hong Kong and China

岳曉東(Xiaodong YUE)





This paper proposes that Chinese people have traditionally been ambivalent about humor in the following three manners: (1) they tend to value humor but consider themselves lacking humor, (2) being humorous is not associated with being an orthodox Chinese, (3) humor is important but not for everyone. The paper also proposes that the Chinese ambivalence toward humor is largely due to an appreciation-despising complex about humor that is deep-rooted in Chinese culture. To verify this, this author conducted a survey study among a sample of 337 undergraduates in Hong Kong and Huhehot. Results show that (1) participants all rated highly on importance of humor but low on perception of self humor, (2) male students considered themselves to be more humorous than female students, (3) the top ten important characteristics for humor are fundamentally different from the top ten characteristics important for Chinese personality, (4) perception of humor is more positive than that of the Chinese personality. The paper concludes with a discussion of the psycho-social implications of the present findings on studies and enhancement of humor in Chinese society as well on some thoughts on further directions of research.