Cover image for Humor : the psychology of living buoyantly
Humor : the psychology of living buoyantly
Lefcourt, Herbert M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, [2001]

Physical Description:
xii, 208 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF575.L3 L425 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In his earlier work the author has studied stress and the personality characteristics that protect us from its effects on health and well-being. In this new book he places humor firmly within the literatures of coping processes, the moderation of stressful experiences, and health by showing how humor can help create and encourage feelings of community, closeness, and control. Lefcourt blends empirical research with anecdotal reports in this thoughtful volume.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Books about research, even the most exciting research, tend to be of limited interest. This work suggests a solution to that problem: here is the story of a personal quest, a story that includes the scientific expertise and the subjective reminiscences that really make up the investigator. Psychological factors in health, both physical and mental, are the goal of the research, and Lefcourt (Univ. of Waterloo, Canada) follows a path through studies on self-control to the related topic of humor. Research justifies the hope for serenity, courage, and wisdom; to these--guided by experimental results, literary examples, and real life--Lefcourt adds a fourth element: a sense of humor to laugh at it all, which turns out to be critical. The author presents the studies on "buoyancy" and individual differences (especially male-female), social support, stress, and health with both sophistication and clarity. Though modest to the extreme, Lefcourt has been in the forefront of these investigations. An update of Lefcourt and Rod Martin's Humor and Life Stress: Antidote to Adversity (1986), the present title indicates how much has been accomplished and points the direction for future work. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers; professionals. P. L. Derks emeritus, College of William and Mary

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Changing Concerns of Psychologyp. 1
My Personal Odysseyp. 4
Turning Psychology to the Study of Positive Assetsp. 6
The Introduction of Humor into Research on Resiliencep. 11
Chapter 2 Experiencing Humor in Everyday Lifep. 15
An Intuitive Approach to Understanding Humorp. 20
Can We Truly Understand the Roots of Humor?p. 25
Conclusionp. 29
Chapter 3 Early Conceptions of Humor in Religion, Medicine, Philosophy, and Psychologyp. 31
Conclusionp. 39
Chapter 4 The Pervasiveness of Humorp. 41
Is Humor Universal in the Human Species?p. 41
Are Humans Alone in the Use of Humor and Joking?p. 44
Are There Universals in the Form and Content of Humor?p. 48
Conclusionp. 53
Chapter 5 The Many Faces of Humor: Variations in the Types and Definitions of Humorp. 55
Freud's Contributions to the Literature on Humorp. 56
Other Dimensions of Humorp. 61
Cruel and Hostile Humorp. 64
Humorp. 72
Chapter 6 The Development of Humor: Accounting for Individual Differencesp. 75
Research with Normative Samplesp. 76
Sources of Individual Differences in Humorp. 79
Humor as a Coping Tool among Professional Comediansp. 83
Chapter 7 The Effects of Stress on Emotion and Healthp. 89
Illness and Stress: The Physiological Connectionsp. 92
Stress Effects on Appetite and Digestionp. 95
Stress Effects on Sexual Activityp. 97
The Inhibition of Growthp. 97
The Inhibition of Immune System Activityp. 98
Is There a Way out of the Vicious Circle of Arousal and Deterioration?p. 99
Humor as a Moderator of Stressp. 101
Study 1p. 101
The Resultsp. 103
Study 2p. 104
The Resultsp. 106
Study 3p. 106
The Resultsp. 107
What May We Conclude from These Data?p. 107
Chapter 8 Humor as a Coping Strategyp. 109
Humor as a Moderator of Stressful Experiences: An Updatep. 113
Chapter 9 Humor as a Means of Retaining Social Cohesion and Supportp. 127
Membership in Social Groupsp. 128
Social Support as a Moderator of Stressful Life Experiencesp. 131
Humor as an Enhancer of Social Belongingp. 133
Chapter 10 Sense of Humor and Physiological Stress Responsesp. 141
Humor and Autonomic Nervous System Activityp. 141
Humor and Immune System Activityp. 146
Conclusionsp. 150
Chapter 11 Sex and Humor: Interactive Predictors of Health?p. 151
Possible Sources of Sex Differences in Humor Usagep. 157
Conclusionp. 160
Chapter 12 Summing Upp. 165
A. The Coping Humor Scale (CHS)p. 173
Guide for Scoring of the CHSp. 174
B. The Situational Humor Response Questionnaire (SHRQ)p. 175
C. Bibliography of Research with CHS and SHRQp. 179
Referencesp. 183
Author Indexp. 199
Subject Indexp. 205