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Completed research project

Title / Titel Humor and satisfaction with life
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Summary / Zusammenfassung Positive psychology studies what is best in people. In their classification of strengths and virtues, Peterson and Seligman (2004) assign humor to belong to the virtue of transcendence, however, empirical studies indicate it is even more so related to humanity and wisdom (Beermann & Ruch, 2009; Müller & Ruch, 2011). Strengths are seen to enable the “good life” and indeed the 24 strengths correlate positively with life satisfaction with humor typically being a good predictor (e.g., 8 out of 24). This far, there is no specific study that deals with age-related changes of humor (as strength of character) across the life-span and its relation to well-being in the elderly. N = 42,964 participants completed measures for humor as a strength of character, satisfaction with life, and orientations to happiness. Results showed that humor was robustly positively correlated with life satisfaction but also with the pleasurable, the engaged and, lowest, with the meaningful life (Ruch, Proyer & Weber, 2010). However, these are correlations and need to be supplemented by experiments to allow to draw conclusions regarding causality. For this a humor training programm will be evaluated. Furthermore, there are other forms of humor besides humor as a strengths (e.g., components of humor appreciation, creation, styles of humor, sense of humor) and varieties of way of being humorless, and not all forms of humor can be seen to contribute to the good life or to be antagonistic (Proyer, Ruch, & Chen, in press). Therefore, a comprehensive set of humor traits will be examined in this context. Furthermore, mediators (positive and negative emotions, social support) will be investigated.
Publications / Publikationen Beermann, U., & Ruch, W. (2011). Can people really “laugh at themselves”? - Experimental and correlational evidence. Emotion, 11, 492-501. doi:10.1037/a0023444

Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Buschor, C. (2013). Testing strengths-based interventions: A preliminary study on the effectiveness of a program targeting curiosity, gratitude, hope, humor, and zest for enhancing life satisfaction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14, 275-292. doi:10.1007/s10902-012-9331-9

Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Chen, G.-H. (2012). Gelotophobia: Life satisfaction and happiness across cultures. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 25, 23-40. doi:10.1515/humor-2012-0002

Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Müller, L. (2010). Sense of humor among the elderly: Findings with the German version of the SHS. Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie, 43, 19-24. doi:10.1007/s00391-009-0082-0

Müller, L., & Ruch, W. (2011). Humor and strengths of character. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6, 368-376. doi:10.1080/17439760.2011.592508

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. & McGhee, P. (2014). Humor intervention programs. In A. C. Parks & S. M. Schueller (Eds.), Handbook of Positive Psychological Interventions (pp. 179-193). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. doi:10.1002/9781118315927.ch10

Ruch, W., Proyer, R. T., & Weber, M. (2010). Humor as character strength among the elderly: Theoretical considerations. Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie, 43, 8-12. doi:10.1007/s00391-009-0080-2 (Reprinted as Humor som karakterstyrke hos ældre: Teoretiske betragtninger. 
In Kognition & Pædagogik, 2010, Vol. 20).

Ruch, W., Proyer, R. T., & Weber, M. (2010). Humor as character strength among the elderly: Empirical findings on age-related changes and its contribution to satisfaction with life. Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie, 43, 13-18. doi:10.1007/s00391-009-0090-0

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.

Keywords / Suchbegriffe Humor, Life satisfaction, virtue, positive psychology
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Prof. Willibald Ruch, Dr (Project Leader)
PD Dr. René Proyer
Dr. Marco Weber
lic.-phil. Liliane Müller
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
Prof./Ph.D. Chen Guohai
School of Management
Guangdong University of Foreign Studies
Guangzhou, P.R. China 510420
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Jan 2010 to Dec 2017