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Exploring the role of humor in the management of existential anxiety

Exploring the role of humor in the management of existential anxiety

Morgan, Jessica, Smith, Rebecca ORCID: 0000-0002-6459-0084 and Singh, Amrik (2019) Exploring the role of humor in the management of existential anxiety. HUMOR International Journal of Humor Research, 32 (3). pp. 433-448. ISSN 0933-1719 (Print), 1613-3722 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2017-0063)

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Abstract

The current study addressed a topic that has both theoretical and applied importance, by examining the potential existential anxiety-buffering function of humor. Participants (N=556; 55% female; M age = 37 years) completed a measure of trait coping humor before being randomly assigned to a mortality salience condition and a humor induction condition and then completing a measure of death-thought accessibility. ANOVA revealed main effects of trait coping humor, mortality salience and humor induction on death-thought accessibility in the expected directions. Coping humor interacted with mortality salience (F(1,439)=14.47, p<.01) showing that low coping humor participants were more affected by the mortality salience manipulation. Coping humor also interacted with humor induction (F(1,439)=8.94, p<.01) showing that low coping humor participants were more affected by the humor induction. Findings suggests that whilst trait coping humor appears to buffer the effects of mortality salience, those low in trait coping humor may benefit the most from interventions aimed at reducing existential anxiety via humor. The apparent beneficial effect of humor induction for individuals low in coping humor holds a promise of advancing our understanding of existential threat and, ultimately, providing a basis for interventions to improve mental health.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: coping humor, terror management theory, existential anxiety
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Education & Health
Faculty of Education & Health > Department of Psychology, Social Work & Counselling
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2019 09:53
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/24839

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