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The Effect of Reminiscing about Laughter on Relationship Satisfaction

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Abstract

Despite independent evidence that reminiscing about positive events has positive emotional benefits, and that laughter plays a role in seemingly successful relationships, there is a lack of empirical research examining how reminiscing about laughter might influence relationship well being. Specifically, the current study assessed whether reminiscing about shared laughter would increase relationship satisfaction among romantic couples. Fifty-two couples were randomly assigned to one of four reminiscing conditions and completed pre- and post-manipulation assessments of relationship satisfaction. As predicted, couples who reminisced about events involving shared laugher reported higher relationship satisfaction at the post-manipulation satisfaction assessment as compared to couples in the three control conditions. The effect was not attributed to positive mood induction as mood scores across groups were similar. Results show preliminary support for the notion that reminiscing about laughter may have a more potent influence on relationship well being than reminiscing about other positive events.

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Notes

  1. For the purpose of this paper, a distinction between humor and laughter will not be drawn. This decision is based on the proposition of Martin (2001) that humor can be defined as a stimulus, a mental process, or a response such as laughter.

  2. Fraley and Aron also found support for the mediational influence of humor as serving as a distraction from discomfort in an initial encounter between strangers. Given that this function of laughter is not particularly relevant to a discussion of romantic relationships, we will not explore this function of humor further.

  3. Because couples in the current study demonstrated a tendency to report high levels of relationship satisfaction, a possible ceiling effect (negative skew to the data) seemed likely. Therefore, the pre- and post-manipulation relationship satisfaction scores were reflected, and a log transformation was performed. When the transformed scores were submitted to the same statistical analyses as the untransformed data, no changes were observed in the pattern of findings. That is, a statistically significant effect for the shared laughter reminiscence condition emerged.

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Correspondence to Doris G. Bazzini.

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Author’s Note: We would like to thank the U.S. Department of Education for providing a stipend for Carmen Pyles Davis, which partially supported this project. We wish to thank Lisa Curtin and Denise Martz for providing helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.

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Bazzini, D.G., Stack, E.R., Martincin, P.D. et al. The Effect of Reminiscing about Laughter on Relationship Satisfaction. Motiv Emot 31, 25–34 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-006-9045-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-006-9045-6

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