People use a variety of emotion regulation strategies to cope with difficult situations. Although there is research supporting humor as an effective emotion regulation strategy, less is known about what circumstances lead people to use humor and what negative emotions humor seems to be the most helpful in mitigating. The current study aimed to determine to what extent specific negative emotions lead people to choose humor as an emotion regulation strategy. Participants wrote about a neutral situation and then selected from four card decks with different stimuli (funny, pleasant, awe-inspiring, or neutral). Participants were then randomly assigned to a negative emotion condition (sadness, embarrassment, anxiety, or anger) and wrote about a situation in which they have experienced that specific emotion. They then completed the card selection task again. We compared the number of funny cards chosen between the neutral vs negative emotion trials for each emotion. We found that card selection did not change significantly from the neutral-affect trial to the negative emotion trial across any of the negative emotions. Limitations and future directions are discussed.
- Humor Based Coping: For Which Negative Emotions Do We Use Humor?