The impact of humor on early adolescents' emotional and behavioral response to events

Hillary Lisa Sobol, Pace University

Abstract

A large body of evidence indicates that undesirable major life events and minor daily events cause, contribute to, and exacerbate emotional and behavioral disturbances in early adolescents. Ongoing research has focused on factors which both relate to functioning and which offer protection against the negative effects of such events. The present study examined the relationship between humor, events, and functioning and the impact of humor on young teens' emotional and behavioral response to events.^ One hundred and twenty-nine middle school students completed questionnaires measuring functioning, the occurrence and impact of major life events and minor daily events, the use of humor as a coping mechanism, and the experience of laughter in various situations.^ Hierarchical multiple regression analyses primarily were employed to assess the hypotheses. As expected, major life events and minor daily events--measured separately--were positively correlated with and were positive predictors of emotional and behavioral dysfunction--each accounting for a significant proportion of the total variance in disturbance. Although it was postulated that coping and situational humor would negatively correlate with and negatively predict disturbance, neither was related to dysfunction directly, among the total sample. However, among the total sample, after controlling for major life events, both aspects of humor negatively predicted dysfunction and contributed to the remaining variance in dysfunction above that accounted for by major life events alone, but after controlling for minor daily events, neither humor aspect predicted dysfunction nor added to the prediction of disturbance beyond that explained by such events.^ As hypothesized, both aspects of humor mitigated the major life event/disturbance relationship for the total sample. Visual inspection of graphs that show regression lines depicting the interaction between major life events and humor in predicting disturbance and, as such, reflect the major life event/disturbance relationship for subjects at different levels of humor, indicates that among subjects lower in humor, increases in major life events were seemingly associated with increases in dysfunction, while among subjects higher in humor, increases in major life events were associated with either significantly less, if any, increases in disturbance or seeming decreases, if any, in dysfunction. In contrast, neither aspect of humor attenuated the minor daily event/dysfunction relationship.^ The findings suggest that among early adolescents, coping and situational humor are important to the prediction of disturbance when examined in the context of a relationship and interaction with major life events, but neither improves the prediction of dysfunction when measured in the context of a relationship and interaction with minor daily events.* ftn*Originally published in DAI Vol. 59, No. 5. Reprinted here with revised abstract. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Personality

Recommended Citation

Hillary Lisa Sobol, "The impact of humor on early adolescents' emotional and behavioral response to events" (January 1, 1998). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI9833671.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI9833671

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