Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 133–153 | Cite as

Laughter and Stress in Daily Life: Relation to Positive and Negative Affect

  • Nicholas A. Kuiper
  • Rod A. Martin


The present study investigated the proposal that increased laughter can serve to moderate the affective impact of negative life events. Community participants kept a record of their actual frequency of laughter for a 3-day period, and completed a measure of stressful life events each evening. Current levels of positive and negative affect were also obtained in the morning and evening of each day. A series of simple correlations, computed on a daily basis, provided little evidence for any direct relationships between amount of daily laughter and either positive or negative affect. Instead, more complex moderator analyses revealed that greater negative affect was clearly associated with a higher number of stressful life events, but only for those individuals with a lower frequency of actual laughter. In contrast, and in support of a stress buffering hypothesis, it was found that individuals with a higher frequency of laughter did not show greater levels of negative affect as stressful life events increased. When considering positive affect, it was found that only males showed a significant moderating effect of laughter. For males who laughed more frequently, a greater number of stressful life events was associated with higher levels of positive affect. These findings are discussed in terms of several possible mechanisms which may account for the moderating effects of laughter on affect, including the use of cognitive appraisals and emotion-focused coping strategies.


Negative Affect Coping Strategy Positive Affect Direct Relationship Moderator Analysis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Brantley, P. J., Cocke, T. B., Jones, G. N., & Goreczny, A J. (1988). The Daily Stress Inventory: Validity and effect of repeated administration. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 10, 75–81.Google Scholar
  3. Brantley, P. J., Waggoner, C. D., Jones, G. N., & Rappaport, N. B. (1987). A Daily Stress Inventory: Development, reliability, and validity. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 10, 61–74.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Deaner, S., & McConatha, J. (1993). The relation of humor to depression and personality. Psychological Reports, 72, 755–73.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Fry, W. F. (1994). The biology of humor. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 7, 111–126.Google Scholar
  6. Graeven, D. B., & Morris, S. J. (1975). College humor in 1930 and 1972: An investigation using the humor diary. Sociology and Social Research, 59, 406–410.Google Scholar
  7. Korotkov, D., & Hannah, T. E. (1994). Extraversion and emotionality as proposed superordinate stress moderators. Personality and Individual Differences, 12, 395–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kuiper, N. A., & Martin, R. A. (1993). Humor and self-concept. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 6, 251–270.Google Scholar
  9. Kuiper, N. A., & Martin, R. A. (1998). Is sense of humor a positive personality characteristic? In W. Ruch (Ed.), The “sense of humor”: Explorations of a personality characteristic (pp. 159–178) (Humor Research Series). Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  10. Kuiper, N. A., Martin, R. A., & Dance, K. A. (1992). Sense of humor and enhanced quality of life. Personality and Individual Differences, 13, 1273–1283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kuiper, N. A., Martin, R. A., & Olinger, L. J. (1993). Coping humor, stress, and cognitive appraisals. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science, 25, 81–96.Google Scholar
  12. Kuiper, N. A., Martin, R. A., Olinger, L. J., Kazarian, S. S., & Jette, J. (in press). Sense of humor, self-concept, and psychological well-being in psychiatric inpatients. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research.Google Scholar
  13. Kuiper, N. A., McKenzie, S. D., & Belanger, K. A. (1995). Cognitive appraisals and individual differences in sense of humor: Motivational and affective implications. Personality and Individual Differences, 19, 359–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kuiper, N. A., & Olinger, L. J. (1998). Humor and mental health. In H. Friedman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of mental health, (Vol. 10). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  15. Larsen, R. J., Diener, E., & Emmons, R. A. (1986). Affect intensity and reactions to daily life events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 803–814.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Martin, R. A. (1989a). Techniques for data acquisition and analysis in field investigations of stress. In R. W. J. Neuteld (Ed.), Advances in investigations of psychological stress (pp. 195–234). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  17. Martin, R. A. (1989b). Humor and mastery of living: Using humor to cope with the daily stresses of growing up. In P. E. McGhee (Ed.), Humor and children's development: A guide to practical applications (pp. 135–154) New York: Haworth PressGoogle Scholar
  18. Martin, R. A. (1996). The Situational Humor Response Questionnaire (SHRQ) and Coping Humor Scale (CHS): A decade of research findings. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 9, 251–272.Google Scholar
  19. Martin, R. A., & Dobbin, J. P. (1988). Sense of humor, hassles, and immunoglobin A: Evidence for a stress-moderating effect of humor. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 18, 93–105.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Martin, R. A., & Lefcourt, H. M. (1983). Sense of humor as a moderator of the relation between stressors and moods. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 1313–1324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Overholser, J. (1992). Sense of humor when coping with life stress. Personality and Individual Difference, 13, 799–804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Provine, R. R. (1993). Laughter punctuates speech: Linguistic, social and gender contexts of laughter. Ethology, 95, 291–298.Google Scholar
  23. Rim, Y. (1988). Sense of humor and coping styles. Personality and Individual Difference, 9, 559–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ruch, W. (1996). Measurement approaches to the sense of humor: Introduction and overview. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 9, 239–250.Google Scholar
  25. Ruch, W., & Deckers, L. (1993). Do extraverts “like to laugh”? An analysis of the Situational Humor Response Questionnaire (SHRQ). European Journal of Personality 7, 211–220.Google Scholar
  26. Santiago, R. A., & Bernstein, B.!L. (1996). Affiliation, achievement and life events: Contributors to stress appraisals in college men and women. Personality and Individual Differences, 21, 411–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas A. Kuiper
    • 2
  • Rod A. Martin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada

Personalised recommendations