What’s Wrong with Being Funny? A Clinician’s Perspective on Humor and Behavioral Intervention
This non-data based paper is inspired by extensive clinical experience suggesting that behavior intervention plans tend to be overly rigid and, specifically, that the potential benefits of “humor” are frequently underappreciated. Behavior plans usually include descriptions of supports and of behaviors to be reinforced, and careful operational definitions of behavioral excesses, to be put on extinction, punished, or from which students are to be redirected to a more appropriate behavior. Subjective descriptions are difficult to define operationally, and this is likely one reason that humor is not typically addressed in behavior plans. In the current paper, I describe some potential benefits of humor and argue that we should sometimes use more flexible criteria for describing “inappropriate” behavior. I will provide behavioral analyses of some potential functions of “humor”, describe potential research methods, and describe cautions and recommendations regarding the use of humor in behavior intervention plans.