Examining the Energizing Effects of Humor: The Influence of Humor on Persistence Behavior
- 1.5k Downloads
This paper examines whether, when, and how humor can increase individuals’ persistence.
Two laboratory studies were conducted using 124 students from a large Australian university to examine the causal impact of humor exposure on persistence.
The results show that exposure to humor increases individuals’ persistence in two different tasks and that this effect is mediated by the discrete emotion of amusement (Study 1). Moreover, the positive effect of humor on persistence is stronger for individuals with higher levels of self-enhancing humor style (Study 2).
Humor is not only entertaining but also replenishing. Individuals engaging in activities that require persistence may benefit from exposure to humor. Therefore, organizations that require their employees to persist may consider creating a playful culture that encourages the use of humor to increase employees’ persistence.
Our study is the first to systematically examine the influence of humor on persistence. Going beyond anecdotal and correlational evidence, we document the causal impact of humor exposure on persistence using an experimental design. The findings contribute to the psychology of persistence by showing that humor can be used to increase persistence behavior. In addition, ours is the first study to show that the discrete emotion of amusement mediates the relationship between humor and persistence, and that the effect of humor on persistence is greater for individuals who are high in self-enhancing humor style.
KeywordsPersistence Self-regulation Humor Amusement
The authors would like to thank the UNSW Business School for the use of their ASBlab research facility.
- Adams, P., & Van Amerongen, J. (1998). House calls: How we can all heal the world one visit at a time. San Francisco: Robert D. Reed Publishers.Google Scholar
- Bednarski, J. (2012). Eliciting seven discreet positive emotions using film stimuli. (Honors Thesis in Psychology), Vanderbilt University.Google Scholar
- Bergkvist, L., & Rossiter, J. (2009). The importance of choosing one good item for single-item measures and its generalization to all measures. Transfer - Werbeforschung & Praxis, 55(2), 8–18.Google Scholar
- Boyle, G., & Joss-Reid, J. (2004). Relationship of humor to health: A psychometric investigation. British Journal of Health Psychology, 9(1), 55–66. doi: 10.1348/135910704322778722.
- Branson, R. (2007). Losing my virginity: Richard Branson the autobiography. London: Virgin Books.Google Scholar
- Darwin, C. (1965). The expression of the emotions in man and animals. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- DeWall, C. N., Baumeister, R., Gailliot, M. T., & Maner, J. K. (2008). Depletion makes the heart grow less helpful: Helping as a function of self-regulatory energy and genetic relatedness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(12), 1653–1662. doi: 10.1177/0146167208323981.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Diamantopoulos, A. S., Sarstedt, M., Fuchs, C., Wilczynski, P., & Kaiser, S. (2012). Guidelines for choosing between multi-item and single-item scales for construct measurement: A predictive validity perspective. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 40(3), 434–449. doi: 10.1007/s11747-011-0300-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Duncan, J. (1984). Perceived humor and social network patterns in a sample of task-oriented groups: A reexamination of prior research. Human Relations, 37, 895–907.Google Scholar
- Ekman, P. (1999). Basic emotions. In T. Dalgleish & M. Power (Eds.), Handbook of cognition and emotion. Sussex: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Fleming, P. (2005). Worker’s playtime? Boundaries and cynicism in a “culture of fun” program. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 41(3), 285–303. doi: 10.1177/0021886305277033.
- Gailliot, M. T., Baumeister, R., DeWall, C. N., Maner, J., Plant, E., Tice, D., et al. (2007). Self-control relies on glucose as a limited energy source: Willpower is more than a metaphor. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 325–336. doi: 10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1995.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Gostik, A., & Christopher, S. (2008). The levity effect: Why it pays to lighten up. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Grant, A. M. (2007). Relational job design and the motivation to make a prosocial difiference. Academy of Management Review, 32(2), 393–417. doi: 10.5465/AMR.2007.24351328.
- Gruner, C. (1997). The game of humor: A comprehensive theory of why we laugh. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
- Hamilton, R., Vohs, K., Sellier, A., & Meyvis, T. (2011). Being of two minds: Switching mindsets exhausts self-regulatory resources. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 115(1), 13–24. doi: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2010.11.005.
- Hobbes, T. (1651). Leviathan. Middlesex: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
- Izard, C. (1993). Organizational and motivational functions of discrete emotions. In M. Lewis & J. Haviland (Eds.), Handbook of Emotions (pp. 631–641). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Keltner, D. (2008). Born to be good: The science of a meaningful life. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
- Martin, R. (2007). The psychology of humor. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Martin, R., Puhlik-Doris, P., Larsen, G., Gray, J., & Weir, K. (2003). Individual differences in uses of humor and their relation to psychological well-being: Development of the humor styles questionnaire. Journal of Research in Personality, 37, 48–75. doi: 10.1016/S0092-6566(02)00534-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Mindess, H. (1971). Laughter and liberation. Los Angeles: Nash Publishing.Google Scholar
- Morreall, J. (1983). Taking laughter seriously. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Rottenberg, J., Ray, D., & Gross, J. J. (2007). Emotion elicitation using films. In J. Coan & J. Allen (Eds.), The handbook of emotion elicitation and assessment. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Tiedens, L. (2001). The Effect of Anger on the Hostile Inferences of Aggressive and Nonaggressive People: Specific Emotions, Cognitive Processing, and Chronic Accessibility. Motivation and Emotion, 25(3), 233-251. doi: 10.1023/A:1012224507488.
- Vohs, K., Baumeister, R., & Ciarocco, N. J. (2005). Self-regulation and self-presentation: regulatory resource depletion impairs impression management and effortful self-presentation depletes regulatory resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88(4), 632–657. doi: 10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.522.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Vohs, K., Baumeister, R., Schmeichel, B. J., Twenge, J. M., Nelson, N. M., & Tice, D. (2008). Making choices impairs subsequent self-control: A limited-resource account of decision making, self-regulation, and active initiative. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 883–898. doi: 10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2063.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Warren, S., & Fineman, S. (2007). Don’t get me wrong it’s fun here but. In R. Westwood, C. Rhodes, et al. (Eds.), Humour, work and organization. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Zweyer, K., Velker, B., & Ruch, W. (2004). Do cheerfulness, exhilaration and humor production moderate pain tolerance? A FACS study. Humor, 17(1), 85–119.Google Scholar