The current study tested the 7 Humor Habits Program after McGhee (1996, Health, healing, and the amuse system (2. edition): Humor as survival training. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing; 2010, Humor as survival training for a stressed-out world: The 7 Humor Habits Program. Bloomington, IN: Author House) in two groups receiving the eight-week training (group sessions; one group additionally completing “Home Play” exercises and one group without Home Play) compared to two control groups (a placebo humor group and a waiting control group). The total sample of 110 adults completed measures on the sense of humor, the temperamental basis of the sense of humor, and life satisfaction at three time points: directly before and after the training time, as well as at a two-month follow up. Additionally, peer-ratings on the sense of humor were collected. At each session, the humor-related mood (state cheerfulness, seriousness, and bad mood) was assessed before and after the session. Results show that the sense of humor is malleable, noticeable to the trained individuals as well as to peers (but not in the placebo humor group). The sessions increased cheerful mood and decreased seriousness. Life satisfaction generally increased from the pre-training phase to the post-training phase. To conclude, humor can be trained but more work on consolidation strategies are needed in future studies and intervention designs.
About the authors
Willibald Ruch is a Full Professor of Psychology at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. His research interests are in the field of personality and assessment, with a special focus on humor and laughter, cheerfulness, and smiling. In his doctoral dissertation at the University of Graz (Austria) in 1980, he developed a taxonomy of jokes and cartoons and studied their relation to personality. His more recent work, together with his research team at the University of Zurich, includes humor from a positive psychology perspective, the effectiveness of humor training programs and clown interventions, the ability to laugh at oneself, the fear of being laughed at (gelotophobia), and the measurement of humor.
Jennifer Hofmann PhD, is a senior teaching and research fellow at the department of personality and assessment (Institute of Psychology), University of Zurich. Her current research interests are in personality and assessment, humor, en-and decoding of positive emotions, as well as nonverbal behavior (applying the Facial Action Coding System), with a special interest in laughter.
M.Sc. Heidi Stolz and M.Sc. Sandra Rusch graduated at the Department of Psychology at the University of Zurich in Switzerland by Willibald Ruch with a special interest in the training of humor. Since then, they have been on the road as humor trainers and carry out humor trainings at many different companies, organizations and institutions, as well as the post-graduate course CAS in Positive Psychology at the University of Zurich.
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