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Who Benefits From Humor-Based Positive Psychology Interventions? The Moderating Effects of Personality Traits and Sense of Humor


Wellenzohn, Sara; Proyer, René T; Ruch, Willibald (2018). Who Benefits From Humor-Based Positive Psychology Interventions? The Moderating Effects of Personality Traits and Sense of Humor. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:821.

Abstract

The evidence for the effectiveness of humor-based positive psychology interventions (PPIs; i.e., interventions aimed at enhancing happiness and lowering depressive symptoms) is steadily increasing. However, little is known about who benefits most from them. We aim at narrowing this gap by examining whether personality traits and sense of humor moderate the long-term effects of humor-based interventions on happiness and depressive symptoms. We conducted two placebo-controlled online-intervention studies testing for moderation effects. In Study 1 (N = 104) we tested for moderation effects of basic personality traits (i.e., psychoticism, extraversion, and neuroticism) in the three funny things intervention, a humor-based PPI. In Study 2 (N = 632) we tested for moderation effects of the sense of humor in five different humor-based interventions. Happiness and depressive symptoms were assessed before and after the intervention, as well as after 1, 3, and 6 months. In Study 2, we assessed sense of humor before and 1 month after the intervention to investigate if changes in sense of humor go along with changes in happiness and depressive symptoms. We found moderating effects only for extraversion. Extraverts benefitted more from the three funny things intervention than introverts. For neuroticism and psychoticism no moderation effects were found. For sense of humor, no moderating effects were found for the effectiveness of the five humor-based interventions tested in Study 2. However, changes in sense of humor from pretest to the 1-month follow-up predicted changes in happiness and depressive symptoms. Taking a closer look, the playful attitude- and sense of humor-subscales predicted changes in happiness and depression for up to 6 months. Overall, moderating effects for personality (i.e., extraversion) were found, but none for sense of humor at baseline. However, increases in sense of humor during and after the intervention were associated with the interventions’ effectiveness. Thus, we found humor-based interventions to be equally suited for humorous and non-humorous people, but increases in the sense of humor during the intervention phase could serve as an indicator whether it is worth continuing the intervention in the long-term.

Abstract

The evidence for the effectiveness of humor-based positive psychology interventions (PPIs; i.e., interventions aimed at enhancing happiness and lowering depressive symptoms) is steadily increasing. However, little is known about who benefits most from them. We aim at narrowing this gap by examining whether personality traits and sense of humor moderate the long-term effects of humor-based interventions on happiness and depressive symptoms. We conducted two placebo-controlled online-intervention studies testing for moderation effects. In Study 1 (N = 104) we tested for moderation effects of basic personality traits (i.e., psychoticism, extraversion, and neuroticism) in the three funny things intervention, a humor-based PPI. In Study 2 (N = 632) we tested for moderation effects of the sense of humor in five different humor-based interventions. Happiness and depressive symptoms were assessed before and after the intervention, as well as after 1, 3, and 6 months. In Study 2, we assessed sense of humor before and 1 month after the intervention to investigate if changes in sense of humor go along with changes in happiness and depressive symptoms. We found moderating effects only for extraversion. Extraverts benefitted more from the three funny things intervention than introverts. For neuroticism and psychoticism no moderation effects were found. For sense of humor, no moderating effects were found for the effectiveness of the five humor-based interventions tested in Study 2. However, changes in sense of humor from pretest to the 1-month follow-up predicted changes in happiness and depressive symptoms. Taking a closer look, the playful attitude- and sense of humor-subscales predicted changes in happiness and depression for up to 6 months. Overall, moderating effects for personality (i.e., extraversion) were found, but none for sense of humor at baseline. However, increases in sense of humor during and after the intervention were associated with the interventions’ effectiveness. Thus, we found humor-based interventions to be equally suited for humorous and non-humorous people, but increases in the sense of humor during the intervention phase could serve as an indicator whether it is worth continuing the intervention in the long-term.

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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
Language:English
Date:28 May 2018
Deposited On:10 Oct 2018 14:08
Last Modified:31 Dec 2018 08:29
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1664-1078
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00821
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100014_132512
  • : Project TitlePositive Interventions: Empirical studies on enhancing satisfaction with life
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100014_149772
  • : Project TitlePositive Interventions: Empirical studies on enhancing satisfaction with life

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