Laughter and Amusement’s Buffering Effect on Stress: An Experimental Design
There is currently a significant amount of hype surrounding laughter and its effects, but there is a lot less excitement concerning the positive emotion that tends to compel laughter: amusement. The purpose of the current study was to make the distinction between laughter and amusement and observe the stress buffering effects of those different components. First, I examined if amusement and laughter have a buffering effect. I then examined if forced laughter, with no amusement, has a buffering effect of stress. Finally, I examined if amusement, in the absence of laughter, has a buffering effect. The study employed a 2x2 between subjects design, which crossed an amusing video and bored video with instructions to act amused and instructions to act bored. Results showed that participants who experienced amusement and laughter together had significantly less negative affect than those who did not experience amusement or laughter. This points to a buffering effect of co-occurring laughter and amusement. Results showed a main effect of expressivity (instruction type) on amusement and positive affect levels post-stressor task; those who were told to express amusement, regardless of internal emotion, experienced significant increased levels of amusement and positive affect. Therefore perhaps the method used to isolate amusement (without laughter) was only suppressing participants’ experience of amusement. A future direction is proposed to combat this issue.