Laugh it off: The reappraisal of negative life events through humorous memoir writing

Open Access
Author:
Mccormick, Brandon Foster
Area of Honors:
Psychology
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Reginald Adams , Thesis Supervisor
  • Frank Hillary, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Humor
  • Humorous Reappraisal
  • Excitation Transfer
  • Cognitive Accessibility
  • Benefits of Humor
Abstract:
The present study was conducted to examine the effects of both increased accessibility of specific schemas and the transfer of physiological excitation on the reappraisal of negative life events in a series of humorous and non-humorous memoir activities. Participants in the present study wrote either write a memoir of a negative life event followed by a memoir containing humorous reinterpretation of the event (accessibility, increased excitation), write a memoir of a negative life event followed by an unrelated humorous memoir (no accessibility, increased excitation), or an affectively neutral memoir followed by an unrelated humorous memoir (no accessibility, no increased excitation). A total of 64 undergraduate students completed the study. The results showed that humorous memoir writing has beneficial effects beyond simple distraction, and that contrary to our original hypothesis, negative event-unrelated humor is more beneficial than related humor.