This chapter discusses the social psychology of humor, starting with a walk through how the presence of other people can make things seem funnier. It shows how humor can have a positive or a negative tone and it can focus on ourselves or on those around us. Self-enhancing humor makes stress tolerable. It can keep folks from viewing minor annoyances as unbearable disasters. The chapter sketches how humor can function to maintain the status quo. People who report using self-enhancing humor show less anxiety, neuroticism, and depression; better psychological well-being and self-esteem, and more extraversion, optimism, and openness to experience. When it comes to hierarchies, getting a feel for who’s cracking jokes and laughing can communicate who’s top dog. The chapter finally focuses on gender differences, and then sees how humor contributes to developing friendships, finding a date, and maintaining an intimate relationship.
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This chapter links facets of personality, and other individual differences among people, to aspects of their sense of humor, including the way that they use comedy in their lives and the kinds of jokes they generate and appreciate. The study of personality back in the 1940s had grown quite convoluted. It had started in ancient times, when Hippocrates, of the legendary oath, proposed four temperaments. He thought that personality arose from different proportions of fluids in the body, creating a popular link between personality and physiology. By the late 1800s, Sir Francis Galton, brilliant half-cousin of Charles Darwin and noted polymath, reasoned that any important aspect of personality ought to make it into the language. He fashioned a taxonomy based on a dictionary. Humor and creativity relate to each other in curious ways. But both are also correlated with extraversion and intelligence.
Bargaining can be a stressful experience, but humor seems to create more pleasure about the final agreement. Extending this bargaining research to more general and diverse applications of humor has led to some intriguing findings. This chapter discusses the research that provides a peek into the workings of negotiation, interactions on the job, persuasion, memory, education, and even creativity. Folks in both education and business often turn to humor in an attempt to captivate, inform, and persuade. Despite effusive anecdotes, research shows that cartoons and gags help education and business only in some specific circumstances. Qualitative research and quantitative work reveal that humor appears frequently during bargaining. Quips often accompany transitions from initial discussions to serious negotiations. Humor can create a happy mood, leading people to process messages peripherally-relying on their gut impressions rather than complicated reasoning.
Research offers more support for humor’s impact on psychological well-being than on physical health. The area of humor and its effect on serious mental illness deserves further work. A chortle or two and a good sense of humor also seem to help emotional well-being in folks involved in psychotherapy, whether or not they might qualify for a diagnosis. Based on the assumption that humor can improve mental health, psychotherapists of nearly every ilk have recommended comedy. Some see it as a skill that therapists should develop or as a technique to use in therapy at certain times. A handful of therapists think of humor as a treatment itself. All agree that it’s a double-edged sword, warning that caustic humor has no place in the process of therapy. Appropriate humor seems as if it could enhance empathy, warmth, and genuineness. Affiliative humor, the kind that brings people together, certainly sounds apt.
Extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, authoritarianism, and religious fundamentalism can help predict who’s funny and who will appreciate different kinds of gags. Humor can have direct effects on physical health and psychological well-being; it can buffer folks against the slings and arrows of daily hassles. A keen understanding of ways that people develop jokes can helps to generate and appreciate them, which might make their social interactions more fun or help the occasional speech, toast, or presentation. Relaxation and meditation probably have a better impact on psychological well-being than humor does. Developing optimism would probably have a more direct effect on handling stress than becoming a comedian would. If the thought of being funny for its own sake makes sense, or at least means appreciating wit when it’s around, that’s the best justification for developing a good sense of humor.
This chapter provides some ways to classify jokes into categories, discusses some theories about what makes something funny, and get into the caveats about why this work can be so difficult. This information can lay the groundwork for humor’s role in communication, personality, health, thought, and the like. Comedy alters mood, thought, stress, and pain. Jokes and laughter may play an important role in health, mental illness, marital bliss, education, and psychotherapy. Although a comprehensive model that explains every funny thing in the world would be quite complicated, humor definitely lends itself to study. Cynicism aside, experiments on comedy and mirth have generated amazing insights in the arts and sciences, leading to new ways to recognize, generate, and use funny material. As ubiquitous and intuitive as comedy seems to be, the grand theory and explanation of all humor remain elusive.
Turning relationships with health care providers into social support sounds great for all aspects of medicine. There is no harm in using social support and humor together. A close look at the research on immune function, allergies, erectile dysfunction, and longevity reveals some promise for laughter’s health benefits. Nevertheless, throwing away antibiotics in favor of animation is ill advised. In addition, a blithe, nonchalant attitude about symptoms of sickness might lead people to avoid health professionals, making illness worse. White blood cells of various types play an integral role in the battle against illness. Most experiments on humor and health focus on these indices by sampling a test tube full of blood or spit. Finding out the exact number of antibodies in human fluids is not a kitchen-sink exercise. Nevertheless, researchers put together as much data as possible on shoestring budgets.
Mental health is integral to personal well-being. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 58 million adults, or 26” of the American population, suffer from some form of mental illness. The National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is a consumer group that advocates for better mental health services and provides mental health education and support groups for individuals and families. The faith community nurse (FCN) is often the only support person available to such individuals, and providing care to them can overwhelm a health ministry. Bard believes that FCNs can have a role in the prevention and management of problems associated with substance abuse. Researchers have found that illicit drug use is much higher in persons arrested for domestic violence than among the general population and that illicit drug use is more predictive of aggression than alcohol use.
This chapter explains the concept of vulnerability and demographics of vulnerable populations. Poverty is the primary cause of vulnerability: It limits resources in many areas of life. From a public health perspective, a population is vulnerable by virtue of status, which means that some groups are at greater risk than others. Faith community nurses (FNCs) may have many or few opportunities to work with vulnerable persons, depending on the demographics of the faith community. Living in poverty decreases access to resources. It increases the likelihood that a person will experience adversity related to physical, psychological, and social health, as well as poor housing, nutrition, health care services, and education. FCNs need to be knowledgeable about programs such as social services, welfare, Medicaid, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as well as local food banks.
This chapter helps the reader to understand the issues to be considered in palliative and hospice care. Palliative care is the medical subspecialty that focuses on pain relief, symptoms, and stresses of serious illness. The chapter focuses on the faith community through the loss and grief process. Loss of any sort is associated with grieving. Faith community nurses (FCNs) minister to individuals and families through all stages of an illness experience. Palliative care is a precursor of the principles of hospice, but it is extended to those in earlier stages of life-threatening illness and does not exclude any form of therapy. Hospice care is holistic care provided in the home to a terminally ill person. Many losses in palliative and hospice care settings are all too real in terms of loss of control over one’s life, loss of functions, and loss of social interaction.