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International Journal of Humor Research

Editor-in-Chief: Ford, Thomas E.

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Volume 15, Issue 4 (Nov 2002)


Humor, stress, and coping strategies

Millicent H Abel
  • Corresponding author
  • Western Carolina University.
  • Email:
Published Online: 2008-02-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humr.15.4.365


This study explored relationships between sense of humor, stress, and coping strategies. Undergraduate students (N=258) from introductory psychology courses completed a perceived stress scale, an everyday problems scale, a state anxiety inventory, a sense of humor scale, and a scale assessing their preferred coping strategies. High and low sense of humor groups were determined by selecting participants with self-reported sense of humor at one standard deviation above and below the overall mean on the sense of humor scale. The high sense of humor group appraised less stress and reported less current anxiety than a low sense of humor group despite experiencing a similar number of everyday problems in the previous two months. The high humor group was more likely to use positive reappraisal and problem-solving coping strategies than the low humor group. A weaker relationship existed between appraisal of stress and number of problems in the low humor group because this group perceived greater stress at low and average number of everyday problems than the high humor group. The results were discussed as supporting the role of humor in restructuring a situation so it is less stressful, and the relationship of humor to both emotion-focused and problem-focused coping strategies.

About the article

*Correspondence address: Millicent H. Abel, Department of Psychology, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723.

Published Online: 2008-02-20

Published in Print: 2002-11-22

Citation Information: Humor – International Journal of Humor Research, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humr.15.4.365.

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