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The Fate of Class Clowns: “Class Clowning is a Zero Sum Game” [study]

Not all the world loves a class clown. In particular, not all teachers love class clowns. This new study explores the love and lack of love, and the consequences thereof:

The association between class clown dimensions, school experiences and accomplishment,” Tracey Platt, Lisa Wagner, Willibald Ruch [pictured here], Learning and Individual Differences, epub September 2, 2016. (Thanks to Neil Martin for bringing this to our attention.


The authors, at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and the University of Wolverhampton, U.K., explains:

“Recent research (Ruch, Platt, & Hofmann, 2014) identified four dimensions of class clown behavior (identifying as a class clown, comic talent, disruptive rule-breaker, and subversive joker). This study investigates… a sample of 157 secondary school children (mean age: 15.4 years)…. While class clowns experience positive emotions at school, their negative relationship with teachers might impair their school satisfaction and achievement….

“For someone with humor as a signature strength, engaging in class clowning is a zero sum game. The benefit of having more fun is counteracted by the class clowns’ perceived lower positive relationship with the teacher.”

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