Date of Award

5-2012

Degree Name

MS in Psychology

Department

Psychology & Child Development

Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti

Abstract

Humor is a multifaceted construct commonly used in daily life. For centuries philosophers, healers, and religious figures have extolled humor as the “best medicine” for both the body and the mind. Recent research has shown humor can be adaptive or maladaptive (i.e., contribute to or subtract from well-being; Martin, Puhlik-Doris, Larsen, Gray, & Weir, 2003). Empirical evidence supporting these claims for humor and physical health has been inconsistent; however, new evidence suggests there may indeed be a connection (Martin, 2001; Martin et al., 2003). At the same time, previous research has consistently supported the notion that using humor is related to psychological health. Findings such as these have implications beyond one’s physical and mental health; these findings also have implications on one’s quality of life.

Much like the notion of humor, quality of life is a difficult concept to define succinctly. Quality of life contains several domains including physical health, mental health, social status, and environmental elements (Skevington, Lotfy, & O’Connell, 2004). Previous research has suggested a link between humor and quality of life. Adaptive humor is positively correlated with indicators of psychological health, e.g. self-esteem (e.g., Stieger, Formann, & Burger, 2011) while maladaptive humor has been positively correlated with indicators of psychological distress, e.g. depression (Hugelshofer, Kwon, Reff, & Olson, 2006). To date, researchers have not studied humor and quality of life directly so the primary purpose of this study was to explore how well humor styles predict quality of life.

To explore this predictive relationship, students from an introductory psychology class at a mid-size university were recruited to participate in this study. It was hypothesized that the adaptive humor styles would positively predict quality of life while the maladaptive humor styles would negatively predict quality of life. Stepwise regression models found partial support for the hypotheses. Implications and future directions are discussed.

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