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Laughter Is Good Medicine

Experiencing humor can positively influence a person’s state of hopefulness, say researchers at Texas A&M University.

As part of the Texas A&M study, participants viewed a 15-minute comedy video. Those who viewed the video had significant increases in their scores for hopefulness after watching it, as compared with those who did not view the video. (The study appeared in the International Journal of Humor Research.)

How does humor affect hopefulness?

According to the researchers*, humor may inhibit negative thoughts and 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.

This could create a greater sense of self-worth when dealing with specific problems or stressful events. These positive emotions could then lead to an increase in a person’s ability to develop a “plan of attack” for a specific problem. They may also increase an individual’s perceived ability to overcome obstacles in dealing with that problem — two aspects that psychologists believe comprise hope.

*Reported in Newswise, Feb. 21, 2005.

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