Empathy, Styles of Humor and Social Competence in University Students

Author: Madiha Nazeer

Supervisor: Dr. Rafia Rafique

Degree: MPhil

Year:  (2009 – 2011)

University: Institute of Applied Psychology, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan


The purpose of this research was to investigate the association between empathy and styles of humor with social competence. The sample consisted of 186 university students, males (n = 93) and females (n = 93), drawn through multi-stage sampling technique from three private universities of Lahore. It was hypothesized that social competence is significantly predicted by empathy (fantasy empathy, empathic concern, perspective taking empathy, personal distress) and styles of humor (afflictive humor, self enhancing humor, aggressive humor and self defeating humor). Correlational survey design was used in this research. Self administered standardized scales, Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1983), Humor Styles Questionnaire (Martin, Martin, Puhlik-Doris, Larsen, Gray, &Weir, 2003) and Interpersonal Competence Questionnaire (Buhrmester, Furman, Wittenberg, & Reis 1988) were used to measure empathy, styles of humor and social competence, respectively. The above proposed hypotheses were verified by carrying out hierarchical multiple regression. Results of the study indicated that social competence is significantly predicted by empathic concern and self enhancing style of humor. Research regarding gender differences disclosed that men used more maladaptive styles of humor as compared to women. However, no significant differences were found in empathy and social competence between male and female university students.

Keywords: empathy, social competence, humor.

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Corresponding Address: Department of Applied Psychology, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. Email: chairperson@appsy.pu.edu.pk, Phone: 92-42-9231245

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