Relational Competence, Social Status, and Humor: Evidence from Two Experiments

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We investigate the relationship between relational competence and social status at work. As a potential means of increasing individual social status, we analyze the effects of humor use for relational competence and status as perceived by others. The first study is a video vignette experiment in which the participants rate medical doctors’ presentations. We exogenously vary whether the videos include humor use or not. The second study consists of a randomized controlled trial that was embedded in a continuous education program in cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology. One randomly assigned group of medical doctors participated in a humor training program, while the second group received a control training. Both studies reveal a statistically significant relationship between relational competence and other-rated social status. We do not find statistically significant differences in perceived workplace status between the humor and control conditions in the two studies. However, mediation analysis suggests that humor use might increase social status via indicating relational competence. Furthermore, the perception of successful humor use seems to be an important factor of humor use increasing other-perceived status (via relational competence).
Original languageEnglish
Article number13347
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 01.08.2021