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Do cheerfulness, exhilaration, and humor production moderate pain tolerance? A FACS study


Zweyer, K; Velker, B; Ruch, Willibald (2004). Do cheerfulness, exhilaration, and humor production moderate pain tolerance? A FACS study. HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research, 17(1-2):85-119.

Abstract

Prior studies have shown that watching a funny film leads to an increase in pain tolerance. The present study aimed at separating three factors considered potentially essential (mood, behavior, and cognition related to humor) and examined whether they are responsible for this effect. Furthermore, the study examined whether trait cheerfulness and trait seriousness, as measured by the State-Trait-Cheerfulness-Inventory (STCI; Ruch et al. 1996), moderate changes in pain tolerance. Fifty-sixty female subjects were assigned randomly to three groups, each having a different task to pursue while watching a funny film: (1) get into a cheerful mood without smiling or laughing ("Cheerfulness"); (2) smile and laugh extensively ("Exhilaration"); and (3) produce a humorous commentary to the film ("Humor production"). Pain tolerance was measured using the cold pressor test before, immediately after, and twenty minutes after the film. Results indicated that pain tolerance increased for participants from before to after watching the funny film and remained high for the twenty minutes. This effect was moderated by facial but not verbal indicators of enjoyment of humor. Participants low in trait seriousness had an overall higher pain tolerance. Subjects with a high score in trait cheerfulness showed an increase in pain tolerance after producing humor while watching the film whereas subjects low in trait cheerfulness showed a similar increase after smiling and laughter during the film.

Abstract

Prior studies have shown that watching a funny film leads to an increase in pain tolerance. The present study aimed at separating three factors considered potentially essential (mood, behavior, and cognition related to humor) and examined whether they are responsible for this effect. Furthermore, the study examined whether trait cheerfulness and trait seriousness, as measured by the State-Trait-Cheerfulness-Inventory (STCI; Ruch et al. 1996), moderate changes in pain tolerance. Fifty-sixty female subjects were assigned randomly to three groups, each having a different task to pursue while watching a funny film: (1) get into a cheerful mood without smiling or laughing ("Cheerfulness"); (2) smile and laugh extensively ("Exhilaration"); and (3) produce a humorous commentary to the film ("Humor production"). Pain tolerance was measured using the cold pressor test before, immediately after, and twenty minutes after the film. Results indicated that pain tolerance increased for participants from before to after watching the funny film and remained high for the twenty minutes. This effect was moderated by facial but not verbal indicators of enjoyment of humor. Participants low in trait seriousness had an overall higher pain tolerance. Subjects with a high score in trait cheerfulness showed an increase in pain tolerance after producing humor while watching the film whereas subjects low in trait cheerfulness showed a similar increase after smiling and laughter during the film.

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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:humor laughter smiling pain tolerance facial expression cold pressor test DISCOMFORT THRESHOLDS MIRTHFUL LAUGHTER SENSE MOOD CONSTRUCTION INVENTORY STCI
Date:2004
Deposited On:19 Apr 2013 10:49
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:45
Publisher:Walter de Gruyter
ISSN:0933-1719
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/humr.2004.009

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