<Effects of laughter
Healing process and health.
An article by Kevin Lee Smith reviews the studies showing the positive
health effects of humor and laughter. It makes reference to a number
Dillon Minchoff and Baker (1985).
Laughter increased levels of salivary immunoglobulin A(S-IgA), a vital
immune system protein, which is the body?s first line of defence
against respiratory illness.
Martin and Dobbin (1988)
Found that subjects with low scores on the humor scales showed a
greater negative relationship between stress and S-IgA than did
subjects with high humor scores.
Stone, Valdimarsdottir, Jandorf, Cox, & Neale (1987). Lambert and Lambert (1995)
Found that the S-IgA response level was lower on days of negative mood
and higher on days of positive mood.
Lee Berk (Berk, Tan, & Fry, 1989; Berk, Tan, Napier, & Erby, 1989) -
Loma Linda University School of Medicine's Department of Clinical
Laugher stimulates the immune system and counteracts stress by
lowering serum cortisol levels, increasing the amount of activated
T-lymphocytes, and increasing the number and activity of natural
Meyer Friedman and Ulmer (1984)
Heart patients with additional counselling on relaxation, smiling and
laughter had fewer repeat heart attacks.
The Humour Foundation gives a summary of some research findings on its website.
Rod Martin (2001)
His paper questioned the limitations of some research claims. It
points out that the so-called endorphin effect is questionable.
Norman Cousins and Dr Hitzig (1969)
Found humour and laughter relieved the pain of his ankylosing spondylitis.
L. Ljungdahl Journal of the American Medical Association 1989
Women with painful muscle disorders got significant pain relief after
a course of humour therapy.
ML Kelly - published in the Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis 1984
Young girls with burns were shown cartoons during very painful
hydrotherapy. Their perception of pain was reduced.
William Fry (1971)
Laughter increases heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption and
works the muscles in the face and stomach. Shortly after, these levels
drop, providing a relaxation response.
Berk, Tan, Fry et al. Neuroendrocrine and stress hormone changes
during mirthful laughter. American Journal of the Medical Sciences 298
Laughter is an antidote to stress.
Dr David Garlick. University of NSW School of Physiology.
Laughter leads to a better respiratory movement.
Dr. Hajime Kimata. Unitika Central Hospital in Kyoto Prefecture.
Journal of the American Medical Association.
A Japanese study found that humour shrank skin welts in allergy patients.
In May 2003, Japanese researchers found that laughter helps people
with Type 2 diabetes. Subjects had less of a spike in postmeal
blood-sugar after watching a Japanese comedy show than when they
listened to a monotonous lecture.
The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell
cytotoxicity. Bennett, Mary Payne. Rush U, Coll of Nursing, US.
This study shows that humor reduces stress in cancer patients.
Examining the Research on Humor: Being Cautious About Our Conclusions.
Steven M. Sultanoffm Ph.D.
According to this article there is not sufficient published research
to support the conclusion that humor and laughter promote health and
Is Laughter the Best Medecine or Any Medecine At All? By Diana L.Mahoney.
This article summarises some of the research in this field.
Cogan, Cogan, Waltz, and McCue (1987)
Two experiments measured discomfort thresholds using a blood pressure
cuff. Humor was found to raise discomfort thresholds.
Hudak, Dale, Hudak, and DeGood (1991) .
Humor was found to raise discomfort thresholds.
Nevo, Keinan, and Teshimovsky-Arditi (1993)
It was found that humor exerts its effects only when it is perceived as humorous.
Zillmann, Rockwell, Schweitzer, and Sundar (1993).
This study found that watching tragedy was just as effective in
significantly increasing discomfort thresholds as comedy.
Weisenberg, Tepper, and Schwarzwald (1995)
This study found a significant pain endurance advantage for watching
both humor and horror movies with the horror treatment being the
An article in Humor & Health Journal describes a study carried out by
Michelle G. Newman Ph.d that found that humor production had a
moderating effect on experimentally induced stress.
This article on humor therapy has a number of references to studies:
Berk LS, Tan SA, Fry WF, et al. Neuroendocrine and stress hormone
changes during mirthful laughter. Am J Med Sci. 1989;298:390-396.
Complementary and Alternative Methods. Humor therapy. American Cancer
Society Web site. Available at: http://www.cancer.org. Accessed
January 31, 2000.
Seaward BL. Humor's healing potential. Health Prog. 1992;73:66-70.
Weisenberg M, Tepper I, Schwarzwald, J. Humor as a cognitive technique
for increasing pain tolerance. Pain. 1995;63:207-212.
Ziegler J. Immune system may benefit from the ability to laugh. J Natl
Cancer Inst. 1995;87:342-343.
Found that students who were taught humorously scored 15% higher on
exams than students taught without humour.
Marshall Kelly Tribble, JR. Humor and Mental Effort in Learning.
This study investigated the effects of humor on learning. The study
found that humour did not appear to affect learning.
Humor in the Classroom by James Rhem.
According to this article humor not only increases an instructor?s
appeal, lowers students? anxiety and increases a sense of group
cohesion in the class, it may enhance learning on a purely cognitive
level, as well.
These benefits may accrue mostly for males and the kinds of humor that
have the highest positive correlations with a teacher?s appeal and a
high rating for good delivery (both from male and female students)
seem at odds with the publicly professed mores of academe.
A Harvard study by Allan Filipowicz found no effect from humor on
group performance. After watching a humorous video groups and
individuals performed equally well. Males performed better after being
stimulated by humor and females did not. When males and females worked
together, female failure to improve cancelled out the better
performance of males.
According to an article on Flat Rock Forest Unitholder Organisation,
an experiment conducted at the University of California at Los
Angeles found that groups that contained a frequently funny and witty
person worked better on problem-solving tasks, worked better together
and were overall more productive than groups that had no ?joker?.
I performed several searches to find more details about this study but
was unable to find any further information online.
Humor in the workplace.
Dr David J. Abramis a psychologist at California State University's
School of business Administration in Long Beach found in his study of
341 workers that those who have the most fun at their jobs are likely
to be the most Productive. Among the reasons he gives: having fun
relaxes mental tension, allowing people to focus more intently on
Further sources of information.
The International Society for Humor Studies has a page on its website
giving links to researcher in humor.
Current research projects
Rx laughter carries out research into the effects of humour on children.
<humor study found>
<study found humour>
<study found humor groups>
<humor learning study found>
<Hope this helps.>