Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Psychometric Study of a Chinese Version of the Multidimensional Sense of Humor Scale

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Psychometric Study of a Chinese Version of the Multidimensional Sense of Humor Scale

Article excerpt

This study sought to ascertain the internal consistency and factor structure of a Chinese translation of the Multidimensional Sense of Humor Scale (MSHS; Thorson & Powell, 1993a). Based on earlier findings on Hong Kong participants, the instrument was revised, followed by translation and back-translation and then administered to 289 undergraduate and mature students at two universities in Hong Kong. The reliability of the scale in this sample was satisfactory ([alpha] = .88) with no gender or age difference. Factor analysis using Varimax principal components analysis presented a four-factor solution accounting for 53.67% of the variance.


Rod Martin (2007) maintains that humor and laughter are universal in all cultures, but that cultural approaches may vary. The Multidimensional Sense of Humor Scale (MSHS) was developed by Thorson and Powell (1993a) to provide a multidimensional measure of the constructs of a personal sense of humor. They propose that personal sense of humor is made up of different elements, including: (1) humor production; (2) a sense of playfulness or whimsy; (3) the ability to use humor to achieve social goals; (4) personal recognition of humor; (5) appreciation of humor; and (6) use of humor as an adaptive mechanism. They generated 124 items related to these six elements of the personal construct of sense of humor. Eventually a 24-item Multidimensional Sense of Humor Scale that asks respondents the degree of agreement to statements on a 5-point Likert scale was validated by three rounds of factor analysis. A high level of reliability was achieved ([alpha] = .92) with a stable general four-factor solution among the three different samples with no significant age or gender difference. The four factors eventually generated were: (1) humor production; (2) coping or adaptive humor; (3) appreciation of humor, and (4) attitudes towards humor and humorous people.

Subsequent studies conducted by the same authors have reported similarly high alpha coefficients for the MSHS. In their analysis of 426 adults aged from 18 to 90, Thorson and Powell (1993c) reported an alpha of .91. The Cronbach alphas of reliability for the younger and older groups in another study were .90 and .89 respectively (Thorson, Powell, Sarmany-Schuller, & Hampes, 1997). Other studies also demonstrated the reliability of the scale. Kohler and Ruch (1996), Kelly (2002) and Abel (2002) reported an internal reliability of .91, .95 and .97, and a four-week test-retest coefficient of .83 was obtained by Boyle and Joss-Reid (2004).

Other dimensions of the MSHS have been found in later studies of the scale. Boyle and Joss-Reid (2004) adopted a maximum likelihood (ML) factoring procedure with direct oblimin rotation to simple structure in obtaining a four-factor structure that accounted for 49.75% of the variance for an Australian sample. Different factor patterns were disclosed. For example, the second factor for the study related more to attitudes towards humor, whereas the second factor of Thorson and Powell's (1993a) original study was coping humor. In subsequent crossnational studies, more than four factors were extracted (Chik, Luk, & Leung, 2001; Chik, Molloy, & Leung, 2003; Jose, Parreira, & Thorson, 2007; Thorson, Brdar, & Powell, 1997), demonstrating how persons in different cultures construe humor.

Thorson, Brdar, and Powell (1997) investigated the cross-cultural psychometric properties of the MSHS in samples of American and Croatian university students. A total of 401 Croatian and 242 American university students completed the MSHS. Results showed that the Cronbach alphas for internal consistency for the Croatian and American samples were .88 and .91 respectively. Five factors were extracted for the Croatian sample and four factors were extracted for the US sample. Similar to the difference that existed between the Australian sample and the American sample found in Boyle and Joss-Reid's (2004) study, the second factor of the Croatian sample loaded six items, two of which belonged to attitudes towards humor/humorous people, another two items appeared to relate more to humor appreciation, while only two items represented coping humor. …

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