Funny Stories: Our Humorous Reappraisals

Open Access
Barrett, James Edward
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Reginald Adams Jr., Thesis Supervisor
  • William Ray, Honors Advisor
  • Humor
  • Cognitive Reappraisal
  • Coping Humor Scale
  • Positive and Negative Affect Scale
Studies have been performed that show the benefits of humor in alleviating the impact of stressful life events. This line of research aims to gain insight into tragedy as a parent of humor by means of cognitive reappraisal. Participants were instructed to write a funny story based on their own life experiences. The Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS, Watson et al., 1988) and the Profile of Mood States (POMS, McNair et al., 1971) were administered in order to measure the participants’ transient emotions before and after they wrote their stories, as well as a third time to measure their emotions during the event about which they wrote their stories. The Coping Humor Scale (CHS, Martin and Lefcourt, 1983) was used to measure the degree to which the participants generally use humor as a means of coping with stress. The Sense of Humor Questionnaire (SHQ, Svebak, 1974) and the Situational Humor Response Questionnaire (SHRQ, Martin and Lefcourt, 1984) were implemented to find the frequency with which the participants tend to use humor in their lives. The effect that writing had on mood was inconclusive. After reading the stories, another variable of interest was noticed: self-focused versus other-focused stories. Self-focused stories were found to be correlated with high scores on the CHS. Furthermore, high coping humor was associated with stories written about self-focused negative events. These results validate the CHS and provide an interesting future direction for the study.