Humor can increase hope

Scientific proof from Texas A&M University of the importance of regularly visiting Hope & Humor:

College Station, Apr. 11, 2005 – Laughter might be the best medicine for transforming the faintest of glimmers of hope into an eternal spring, reveals research at Texas A&M University that shows humor may significantly increase a person’s level of hope.

The experience of humor can positively influence a person’s state of hopefulness, says Texas A&M psychologist David H. Rosen who, along with colleagues Alexander P. Vilaythong, Randolph C. Arnau and Nathan Mascaro, studied nearly 200 subjects ranging in age from 18-42.

As part of the study, which appeared in the International Journal of Humor Research, select participants viewed a 15-minute comedy video. Those that viewed the video had statistically significant increases in their scores for hopefulness after watching it as compared with those that did not view the video, Rosen notes.

The finding, he says, is important because it underscores how humor can be a legitimate strategy for relieving stress and maintaining a general sense of well-being while increasing a person’s hope. Previous studies have found that as high as 94 percent of people deem lightheartedness as a necessary factor in dealing with difficulties associated with stressful life events, he says.

Rosen says humor may competitively inhibit negative thoughts with positive ones, and in so doing, foster hope in people. Positive emotions, such as those arising from experiencing humor, can stimulate thought and prompt people to discard automatic behavioral responses and pursue more creative paths of thought and action, he explains.

Such a process, Rosen says, could lead to a person experiencing a greater sense of self-worth when dealing with specific problems or stressful events. He says these positive emotions could, in turn, lead to an increase in a person’s ability to develop a “plan of attack” for a specific problem as well as increase a person’s perceived ability to overcome obstacles in dealing with that problem – two aspects that psychologists believe comprise hope.

During the course of the study, Rosen found that there was little or no relationship between hope and the number of stressors experienced throughout the past month, but did find a relationship between severity of the stressors and a decrease in hope. This suggests that the accumulated severity of recent stressors seem to have more of am impact on hope than the actual number of stressors, he says.

In the study, sense of humor was not only represented as the tendency to display laughter, smiles and other similar responses, but was measured across four factors – humor production, humor as a coping strategy, attitudes toward humorous people and attitudes about humor.

From ScienceDaily.com

3 Responses

  • Theresa says:

    Can you recommend some funny things to watch? It’s hard to find anything really funny anymore. I agree with your article. Just watch the movie called Anatomy Of An Illness. True story how humor saved a mans life.
    Thank you Theresa

  • Theresa says:

    Thank you. I sent you an email thanking you for your article on suicide. Thank you for being so transparent. Don’t know if you received it yesterday. I am struggling with health issues, insomnia, depression and anxiety. There are times when I consider it because life is so painful. Then I stop and think of all the people I would hurt. I really don’t want to. Being a Christian I’m still not sure if God would forgive me. I’m trying to hold onto God and pray for His help. Thank you for the name of the Christian comedian. Jeff Allen is another funny Christian comedian. Again thank you for talking about a subject that most people can’t talk about.



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