Publication details [#62910]

Ford, Thomas E., Shaun K. Lappi and Emma C. O’Connor. 2017. Manipulating humor styles: Engaging in self-enhancing humor reduces state anxiety. Humor 30 (2) : 169–192.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
De Gruyter


Three experiments were conducted to define whether engaging in self-enhancing humor can ease state anxiety associated with an anticipated stressful event. In all three experiments, participants imagined they were about to take a stressful math test. In Experiment 1 participants who engaged in self-enhancing humor while anticipating taking the test experienced less state anxiety than those who engaged in self-defeating humor or no humor at all. Experiment 2 showed that engaging in self-enhancing humor decreased state anxiety more than mere instructions to adopt a non-serious, humorous outlook in the stressful situation. Experiment 3 disclosed that self-enhancing humor alone induced participants to adopt a humorous perspective on the stressful math test, but that participants responded with the least state anxiety when they were also given instructions about how to employ the humor to reframe the math test. Collectively, these findings validate and expand former correlational studies demonstrating that self-enhancing humor can ease state anxiety associated with a stressful event.