Examining Whether Self-Enhancing Humor has an Effect on Mood changes in Students Under Stress
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Self-enhancing humor is positively associated with self-esteem, self-efficacy, and positive affect. Literature states that individuals who engage in self-enhancing humor styles commonly experience decreased anxiety and depressive symptoms. No study yet, has directly examined whether there is an effect of self-enhancing humor on mood in students under stress. In the study discussed in this thesis, it was predicted that individuals with low self-enhancing humor would experience greater changes in mood, both positive and negative affect, when under stress. Thirty-four (26 female and 8 male) social sciences students, of minimum bachelor level, participated in this study. The Humor Styles Questionnaire (HSQ) was used to assess selfenhancing humor style. All participants completed the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) online prior to either a stress or control task to which they were randomly assigned. During the stress task, participants were given 12 minutes to prepare a 5-minute speech on ANOVA analyses with the aid of a textbook, as literature suggests the anticipation alone of preparing for a public speaking task induces stress in lieu of performing a speech. The control task participants were asked to read about ANOVA analyses from the textbook for a 12-minute period. Following both tasks, participants were asked to complete the PANAS once more and were debriefed about the study. Participants’ responses were analysed in SPSS using a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA), with time and condition as independent variables and humor as a covariate factor. Results indicated that condition had no significant effect on affect across time measures. Using humor as a covariate factor, there was no significant effect over time, over condition or involving the interaction between time and condition. A Pearson correlation indicated a significant association between affect and fear of public speaking, but no significant association between affect and fear of statistics or interest in statistics. The design and execution of the study may have affected the validity of results.