Effect of humor on state anxiety and math performance

Abstract

An experiment tested the hypothesis that exposure to humorous material prior to taking a difficult math test can inhibit the amount of anxiety associated with the test, and thus enhance performance. In keeping with our hypothesis, participants performed better on a math test after first being exposed to funny cartoons versus non-humorous poems or nothing at all. Mediation analyses suggest that state anxiety mediated the relationship between exposure to humorous cartoons and math performance. Participants who were first exposed to cartoons performed better on the math test because they felt less anxiety while taking the test.

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HUMOR, the official publication of the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS), was established over 25 years ago as an international interdisciplinary forum for the publication of high-quality research papers on humor as an important and universal human faculty. The journal publishes original contributions in areas such as interdisciplinary humor research, humor theory, and humor research methodologies.

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