Meme sharing in relationships: The role of humor styles and functions


  • Nicholas Brody University of Puget Sound
  • Sean Cullen



memes, humor, mediated communication, idioms, interpersonal communication


To better understand the role of memes in close relationships, this study synthesizes work on humor use in relationships (Hall, 2017), idiomatic communication (Hopper, et al., 1981) and memes as intergroup communication (Gal, 2019). Results from an online survey demonstrated that having a self-enhancing or self-defeating humor style was positively associated with meme usage in relationships, whereas having an affiliative humor style was negatively related to meme usage. Further, sending memes to fulfill the humor function of enjoyment was positively associated with relational satisfaction, whereas sending memes for the function of apology was negatively associated with relational satisfaction. Participants reported sharing memes most frequently in their closest relationships. Results demonstrate that the sharing of memes plays a meaningful role in many close relationships, and that the role of memes in relationships is partially a function of humor orientation of the individual and humor-related goals of the meme sharing.




How to Cite

Brody, N., & Cullen, S. (2023). Meme sharing in relationships: The role of humor styles and functions. First Monday, 28(5).