Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton November 6, 2018

A theoretical framework for using humor to reduce the effects of chronic stress on cognitive function in older adults: An integration of findings and methods from diverse areas of psychology

Sasha Mallya, Maureen Reed and Lixia Yang
From the journal HUMOR

Abstract

This paper synthesizes the literature on cognitive aging, emotion regulation, and humor, to provide a theoretical framework for the utility of humor in promoting successful cognitive aging. Many older adults experience some degree of cognitive decline, which is associated with reductions in functional status, independence, and overall quality of life. These losses can result in considerable stress that is chronic in nature. The following discussion proposes humor as a technique that older adults may use to reduce stress and protect cognitive abilities. Humor here is described as a form of cognitive reappraisal, allowing older adults to reappraise daily stressors. Further, it is speculated that humor’s protective value is in the reduction of chronic activation of the physiological stress response systems, which in turn may protect functional integrity of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Because older adults appear to have difficulty solving more complex jokes, we propose that low complexity, self-enhancing humor may be the most useful form of humor for older adults.

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Published in Print: 2019-02-25

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