Department of Psychology
Master of Arts
The purpose of this study was to explore the possible interrelatedness of sense of humor, defense mechanism style, level of trait-type anxiety, and locus of control; to compare any trait patterns that occur among these constructs; and to generate ideas about the significance of these patterns and their implications for clinical application. Participants were 100 individuals, 18 years of age or older, predominantly from the student body of a medium-sized southern university. Participants were asked to complete the Multidimensional Sense of Humor Scale (MSHS), Defense Style Questionnaire-40 (DSQ-40), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-Trait Scale (STAI-T), and the Rotter Internal-External Locus of Control Scale (Rotter I-E), as well as a demographic questionnaire. Results of a component analysis of these data reveal two distinct trait patterns. The first component pattern is characterized by high scores for the Neurotic and Immature factors of the DSQ-40, high scores on the Rotter I-E scale (indicating an external locus of control), and high scores on the STAI-T (indicating high anxiety). The second component pattern is characterized by high scores for the Mature factor of the DSQ-40, high scores on the MSHS, and low score on the STAI-T. Correlations also occurred between several pairs of constructs. There was a positive correlation between sense of humor and the use of mature defense mechanisms, there was a positive correlation between high trait anxiety and an external locus of control, there was a positive correlation between an external locus of control and the use of neurotic and immature defense mechanisms, there was a negative correlation between anxiety and the use of mature defense mechanisms, and there was a positive correlation between anxiety and the use of neurotic and immature defense mechanisms. These data reveal that there are distinct trait patterns among these constructs. It may be advantageous to understand that individuals experiencing anxiety disorders may also lack many mature coping strategies and may have an external locus of control. For these individuals, focusing on the development of a mature defense style, increasing a personal sense of control and diminishing feelings of helplessness may increase the success of the therapy. Working toward shifting this entire set of traits may prove more successful than focusing on any one single construct.
Averitt, Emily, "The Relationship Among Sense of Humor, Defense Style, Levels of Trait Anxiety, and Locus of Control" (2005). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 454.