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Completed research project

Title / Titel Cheerfulness as state and trait and enjoyment: Causes, correlates, and consequences
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Summary / Zusammenfassung The study of the emotional responses to humor led to the postulate of the Emotion of ”Erheiterung”, a facet of joy describing the transient upward lift in cheerful state (Ruch, 1992). Erheiterung was described in the levels of experience, behavior, and physiology (Ruch, 1993). However, there are both inter-and intraindividual differences in the readiness to respond to a humor stimulus with genuine enjoyment. Cheerfulness as a trait (i.e., temperament) and a state (i.e., temporary mood) account for the enhanced readiness to respond to humor with amusement. Two forms of humorlessness were described, namely seriousness and bad mood, and both were conceptualizes as a state and trait. Besides laying the conceptual foundation, also instruments for the assessment were constructed. The State-Trait Cheerfulness Inventory (STCI; Ruch, Köhler, & van Thriel 1996, 1997) is a self-report questionnaire for the assessment of cheerfulness, seriousness, and bad mood both as states (STCI-S) and traits (STCI T). There are 20 and 10 items per scale for the trait and state versions, respectively, which respondents rate in terms of endorsement on 1-4 point scales (strongly disagree to strongly agree). The internal reliability (alpha coefficients) of the trait scale for adults ranges from 88. to .94, and the test-retest reliability from .77 to .86 (4 weeks). The state part has high internal consistency too (.85 to .93), and the stability over a month is low (.33 to .36), as expected. The self-reports of the traits correlate .53 to .66 with peer reports (average of three good friends. Recently, Sommer and Hösli (2006) introduced a version for use with children and youth. There are self- and peer-rating forms for both the child and adult versions. Validity studies showed that state and trait cheerfulness predict amount of laughter in a variety of experimental settings, and predict ease of induction of cheerful mood and robustness of mood when facing adversity. The STCI has been validated in a variety of settings, including the study of the humor of teachers (Rissland 2002), the study of humorous interactions among pupils (Bönsch-Kauke 2003), as well as its relation to personality (Ruch & Köhler 2007; Wrench & McCroskey 2001), emotional intelligence (Yip & Martin, 2006), and well-being (Maas 2003). The state part with special instruction was used to evaluate the effects in humor intervention studies in samples of healthy adults (Sassenrath 2001), depressed elderly (Kranzhoff & Hirsch 2001; Hirsch & Ransom 2004), COPD patients (Brutsche et al. 2008), and schizophrenic patients (Falkenberg, Klügel, Bartels, & Wild 2007), but also to examine the effects of experimental interventions (Ruch & Stevens 1995; Thompson, Ruch, & Hasenoehrl 2004). Studies investigating the neural bases of trait cheerfulness are underway (Rapp, Erb, Rodden, Ruch, Grodd, & Wild 2007). Currently there are attempts to adapt this scale for use in Columbia, Spain, China and the USA.

The present project investigates age related changes in trait cheerfulness using a larg online sample of several thousand individuals. Age-specific outcome variables will be used to examine the validity of the concept in individuals every day life.
Publications / Publikationen Brutsche, M.H., Grossman, P., Müller, R.E., Wiegand, J., Pello, Baty, F., & Ruch, W. (2008). Impact of laughter on air trapping in severe chronic obstructive lung disease. International Journal of COPD, 3(1) 1–8.

Carretero-Dios, H., Eid, M., & Ruch, W. (2011). Analyzing multitrait-mulitmethod data with multilevel confirmatory factor analysis: An application to the validation of the State-Trait Cheerfulness Inventory. Journal of Research in Personality, 45, 153-164. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2010.12.007

Delgado-Rico, E., Carretero-Dios, H., & Ruch, W. (2012). Content validity evidences in test development: An applied perspective. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 12, 449-460.

Hofmann, J. & Ruch, W. (2014). Cheerfulness, Seriousness, and Humor. In S. Attardo (Ed.), Encyclopedia of humor studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Hofmann, J., Platt, T., Ruch, W., & Niewiadomski, R., Urbain, J. (2015). The influence of a virtual companion on amusement when watching funny films. Motivation and Emotion, 39, 434-447. doi:10.1007/s11031-014-9461-y

Rapp, A.M., Wild, B., Erb, M., Rodden, F.A., Ruch, W. & Grodd, W. (2008). Trait cheerfulness modulates BOLD-response in lateral cortical but not limbic brain areas - a pilot fMRI study. Neuroscience Letters, 445, 242–245. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2008.09.017

Ruch, W. & Hirsch, R. D. (2010). Humor und Heiterkeit im Alter: Ergebnisse aktueller Studien. Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie, 43, 5-7. doi:10.1007/s00391-009-0093-x

Ruch, W. & Müller, L. (2009). Wenn Heiterkeit zur Therapie wird. Geriatrie Praxis Österreich, (3), 22-24.

Ruch, W. (2005). Extraversion, alcohol, and enjoyment. In P. Ekman & E.L. Rosenberg (Eds.), What the face reveals: Basic and applied studies of spontaneous expression using the Facial Action Coding System (pp. 112-130). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ruch, W. (2005). Laughter and temperament. In P. Ekman & E.L. Rosenberg (Eds.), What the face reveals: Basic and applied studies of spontaneous expression using the Facial Action Coding System (pp. 131-132). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ruch, W. (2005). The FACS in humor resarch. In P. Ekman & E.L. Rosenberg (Eds.), What the face reveals: Basic and applied studies of spontaneous expression using the Facial Action Coding System (pp. 109-111). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ruch, W. (2005). Will the real relationship between facial expression and affective experience please stand up: The case of exhilaration. In P. Ekman & E.L. Rosenberg (Eds.), What the face reveals: Basic and applied studies of spontaneous expression using the Facial Action Coding System (pp. 89-108). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ruch, W. (2008). The psychology of humor. In V. Raskin (Ed.), A primer of humor (pp. 17-100). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Ruch, W. (2009). Amusement. In Sander, D. & Scherer, K. (Eds). The Oxford Companion to the Affective Sciences (pp. 27-28). New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ruch, W. (2009). Unresolved issues in research on humour and laughter: The need for FACS-studies. In E. Bänninger-Huber & D. Peham (Eds.), Proceedings of the FACS-Workshop 2007 (pp. 42-46). Innsbruck, Austria: Innsbruck University Press.

Ruch, W. (2011). Humor und Charakter. In B. Wild (Hrsg.), Humor in Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie: Neurobiologie - Methoden - Praxis (S. 8-27). Stuttgart: Schattauer.

Ruch, W., Beermann, U., & Proyer, R. T. (2009). Investigating the humor of gelotophobes: Does feeling ridiculous equal being humorless? Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 22(1-2), 111-143. doi:10.1515/HUMR.2009.006

Ruch, W., & Hofmann, J. (2012). A temperament approach to humor. In P. Gremigni (Ed.), Humor and Health Promotion (pp. 79-113). Hauppauge, NY USA: Nova Science Publishers.

Ruch, W., Proyer, R. T., Esser, C., & Mitrache, O. (2011). Cheerfulness and everyday humorous conduct. In Romanian Academy: Yearbook of the 'George Baritiu' Institute of History in Cluj-Napoca (Ed.), Series Humanistica (pp. 67-87, Vol. IX). Bucharest, Romania: Romanian Academy Publishing House.

Sarid, O., Melzer, I., Kurz, I., Shahar, D. R., & Ruch, W. (2010). The effect of helping behaviour and physical activity on mood states and depressive symptoms of elderly people. Clinical Gerontologist, 33, 270-282. doi:10.1080/07317115.2010.502105

Sommer, K. & Ruch, W. (2009). Cheerfulness. In S. J. Lopez (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology (pp. 144-148). Massachusetts, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Thompson, R., Ruch, W. & Hasenöhrl, R. (2004). Enhanced cognitive performance and cheerful mood by standardized extracts of piper methysticum (Kava-kava). Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical & Experimental, 19, 243-250. doi:10.1002/hup.581

Zweyer, K, Velker, B. & Ruch, W. (2004) Do cheerfulness, exhilaration and humour production moderate pain tolerance? A FACS study. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 17, 67-84.

Ruch, W., Rodden, F. A., & Proyer, R. T. (2011). Humor and other positive interventions in medical and therapeutic settings. In B. Kirkcaldy (Ed.), The Art and Science of Health Care: Psychology and Human Factors for Practitioners (pp. 277-294). Göttingen: Hogrefe Publishers.

Weitere Informationen

Keywords / Suchbegriffe cheerfulness, seriousness bad mood, amusement, humor, exhilaration, smiling, laughter
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Prof. Dr. Willibald Ruch (Project Leader)
Dr. Jennifer Hofmann
Other links to external web pages
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
Universität Zürich (position pursuing an academic career), Others
In collaboration with /
In Zusammenarbeit mit
Dr. Hugo Carretero Dios
Facultad de Psicología
Universidad de Granada
Campus Cartuja s/n
18071 Granada
Prof./Ph.D. Chen Guohai (Porter Chan)
School of Management
Guangdong University of Foreign Studies
Guangzhou, P.R. China 510420
Duration of Project / Projektdauer May 2009 to Dec 2018