Humor and Resiliency: Towards a Process Model of Coping and Growth


  • Nicholas A. Kuiper


This article considers how humor may fit within a resiliency perspective. Following a brief overview of resiliency approaches, including selected work on positive psychology, several lines of research that provide initial support for resiliency effects of humor on stress and trauma are highlighted. This work ranges from anecdotal case report descriptions of facilitative humor use in extremely traumatic situations (e.g., paramedics), to more rigorous studies examining moderator and cognitive appraisal effects of humor on psychological well-being. Although these initial findings are quite promising, it is noted that some resiliency-based approaches to humor are limited by a sole focus on humor as a positive attribute. As such, a humor styles model, which acknowledges both the adaptive and maladaptive aspects of humor, is used to describe broader avenues of research within a resiliency perspective. This process orientation to humor use also highlights the importance of both negative and positive emotion regulation in modulating coping and growth. This model is then used to comment on limitations and potential extensions of current resiliency perspectives on humor, including programs and exercises that attempt to train humor use in a facilitative manner.