Humorous Coping and Serious Reappraisal: Short-Term and Longer-Term Effects

Andrea C. Samson, Alana L. Glassco, Ihno A. Lee, James J. Gross


The management of unhelpful negative emotions has been addressed by two literatures, one focused on coping via humor, and the other focused on emotion regulation. In the present study, we directly compared humorous coping with conventional (serious) reappraisal. We expected humorous coping to be more effective than serious reappraisal in the short and longer term. Fifty-seven participants used either humorous coping, serious reappraisal, or attended naturally while viewing negative pictures and then rated their positive and negative emotional responses. One week later, participants viewed and rated the pictures again. In the short-term, while humorous coping was more difficult than serious reappraisal, it was more effective in down-regulating negative and up-regulating positive emotions. In the longer-term, both strategies had beneficial effects on positive emotions while humorous coping was more beneficial than serious reappraisal in down-regulating negative emotions. This is the first study that empirically shows short and longer-term beneficial effects of humorous coping versus serious reappraisal in the context of emotions elicited by negative stimuli.


emotion; emotion regulation; humor; coping; reappraisal

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