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Humor as a character strength among the elderly: Empirical findings on age-related changes and its contribution to satisfaction with life


Ruch, Willibald; Proyer, Rene T; Weber, Marco (2010). Humor as a character strength among the elderly: Empirical findings on age-related changes and its contribution to satisfaction with life. Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie, 43(1):13-18.

Abstract

Background. Positive psychology studies what is best in people. In their classification of strengths and virtues, Peterson and Seligman [11] assign humor to the virtue of transcendence. Thus far, there is no specific study that deals with age-related changes in humor (as a strength of character) across a lifespan and its relation to well-being in the elderly. Participants and methods. A total of n=42,964 participants completed an online questionnaire on humor as a strength of character. Participants also completed the Satisfaction with Life Scale and the Orientations to Happiness Scale.Results. In a cross-sectional design, the scores for humor decreased until the age of 50. Men between 51 and 62 years had higher scores; there was a trend for women older than 70 to score higher (but this was not statistically significant). Humor was robustly positively correlated with life satisfaction, as well with a pleasurable and an engaged life, but was lowest with a meaningful life. The oldest participants had the lowest (yet still meaningful) correlation coefficients (with the exception of a meaningful life).Conclusion. The study contributes to the understanding of humor across the lifespan and underlines the importance of studies among the elderly within a framework of positive psychology.

Abstract

Background. Positive psychology studies what is best in people. In their classification of strengths and virtues, Peterson and Seligman [11] assign humor to the virtue of transcendence. Thus far, there is no specific study that deals with age-related changes in humor (as a strength of character) across a lifespan and its relation to well-being in the elderly. Participants and methods. A total of n=42,964 participants completed an online questionnaire on humor as a strength of character. Participants also completed the Satisfaction with Life Scale and the Orientations to Happiness Scale.Results. In a cross-sectional design, the scores for humor decreased until the age of 50. Men between 51 and 62 years had higher scores; there was a trend for women older than 70 to score higher (but this was not statistically significant). Humor was robustly positively correlated with life satisfaction, as well with a pleasurable and an engaged life, but was lowest with a meaningful life. The oldest participants had the lowest (yet still meaningful) correlation coefficients (with the exception of a meaningful life).Conclusion. The study contributes to the understanding of humor across the lifespan and underlines the importance of studies among the elderly within a framework of positive psychology.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Aging; Humor; Orientations to happiness; Positive psychology; Satisfaction with life
Language:English
Date:1 February 2010
Deposited On:29 Jan 2010 09:26
Last Modified:06 Dec 2017 22:34
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0948-6704
Additional Information:The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00391-009-0090-0
PubMed ID:20012063

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