Home Cringe no more: Study reveals dad jokes help children overcome embarrassment
Arts & Entertainment

Cringe no more: Study reveals dad jokes help children overcome embarrassment

(© LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS – stock.adobe.com)

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary included the term dad joke in 2019, officially certifying wholesome jokes by fathers as part of the English lexicon.

Humor Researcher Marc Hye-Knudsen’s new study in the British Psychological Society journal presents the argument that dad jokes help children become more resilient when faced with life’s embarrassments. This immunity toward judgment enables children to feel empowered.

“Why did the orange stop halfway up the hill? He ran out of juice.”

According to word puzzle website Unscramblerer.com, searches for “dad jokes study” grew 5,750 percent in one week in March.

A dad joke is usually wholesome and short, and contains a pun or play on words.

“Children who are approaching or have begun adolescence appear particularly prone to embarrassment, especially in relation to their parents, and dads can exploit this by telling them jokes that are so unfunny that they are embarrassing,” Hye-Knudsen said. “By teasingly striking at their children’s egos and emotions without teetering over into bullying, fathers build their children’s resilience and train them to withstand minor attacks and bouts of negative emotion without getting worked up or acting out, teaching them impulse control and emotional regulation.”

Unscramblerer.com notes a rise in popularity of dad jokes, with the United States loving dad jokes the most in the world. In just 2023, the search volume for dad jokes has risen 14 percent compared to last year. Dad jokes have grown in popularity since 2013.

After the Unites States 100 percent ranking for where dad jokes are most popular, Australia is second with 85 percent, followed by New Zealand at 73 percent, Canada with 67 percent and the United Kingdom with 52 percent.

In the U.S., dad jokes are most popular in Wyoming (100 percent), Utah (89 percent), Idaho (83 percent), South Dakota (81 percent) and Montana (80 percent). They are least popular in Washington D.C. (26 percent), New York (31 percent), New Jersey (32 percent), Connecticut (38 percent) and Massachusetts (38 percent).

“What do sprinters eat before a race? Nothing, they fast!”

“In light of this, it is worth considering dad jokes as a pedagogical tool that may serve a beneficial function for the very children who roll their eyes at them. By continually telling their children jokes that are so bad that they’re embarrassing, fathers may push their children’s limits for how much embarrassment they can handle. They show their children that embarrassment isn’t fatal. For a child who is approaching or has entered adolescence, which appears to be a sensitive period for sociocultural processing, this is an immensely valuable lesson. In this sense, dad jokes may have a positive pedagogical effect, toughening up the kids who are begrudgingly exposed to them,” Hye-Knudsen said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.