Which One of These Do You Prefer – Funny Or Pain?
When we think of funny, we typically think of the pranks people perform during celebrations like weddings, bar mitzvahs, birthdays and other holidays. Others like to consider funny as a form of self expression, comedy or simply for the sheer enjoyment of seeing others react in a funny manner. Whatever our reasons for being entertained by funny things, it’s clear that there is a direct link between laughter and increased levels of happiness. While some may argue that laughter induces sleep more so than does sadness, there’s no doubt that funny things and laughter are powerful agents in creating and maintaining a happy mood and outlook on life.
To understand how and why study subjects interpret funny things differently, turn to an emerging body of qualitative theory that explore why and when particular events are considered funny by those who experience them. In basic terms, this theory refers to the use of a positive or negative adjective with an item to describe its affect on the target or audience. According to this theory, the use of a funny adjective, such as “funny” can cause positive changes on the target or audience’s attitudes and emotions toward a situation. These attitudes and emotions can either increase happiness or decrease sadness. It has been proven that a funny mood can trigger a natural physiological response that releases hormones that elevate stress hormones, which in turn, suppress feelings of sadness.
In addition, when someone experiences the “happiness chemicals” released when they laugh or are surrounded by those who are having a good time, they tend to laugh even more, which only serves to amplify the effects of those “happiness chemicals.” The power of this chemical reaction has actually been scientifically studied using a “laughter contagion” technique wherein one person would provide funny answers to questions intended to evoke laughter, and then the participants would engage in more sharing of these experiences. This has been found to increase the happiness of the participants. It also leads to increased physiological responses such as increases heart rate and blood pressure.
The third theory of the 4P Theory of Funny Writing, the superiority theory, suggests that people are drawn to funny writings or humor because it makes them feel superior to others or to situations in general. The superiority theory also states that if you can make others laugh, then you can actually make yourself laugh, too. This feeling of superiority (or perceived superiority) fuels the desire to find and develop humor, which may ultimately prove to be a gateway into a more advanced understanding of the world. As funny writings or humor is closely related to the ability to appreciate humor in the face of danger, those with a superior sense of humor are perceived as being more capable than others in certain situations. Thus, having humor may provide a shield from danger.
Those who agree with the superiority theory also believe that humor promotes healing and that it can lead to positive changes in life. Another group that shares similar beliefs about humor is the somatic/physical healing crowd. These people believe that certain physical symptoms, such as pain, stress, and depression, are caused by psychological or emotional problems such as inferiority complex, self-doubt, and lack of self-confidence. Humor can be used to mask these feelings and help the afflicted person recover by allowing them to laugh at their misfortune.
The final belief that many psychologists subscribe to is that some forms of humor, such as some funny books and funny online comments, can actually increase happiness and well-being. In fact, the results of some studies on funny writing are comparable to those of drug treatment programs, indicating that funny writing does have an impact on mood. Although scientists are still not able to explain why this occurs, they do agree that it can be tested in the future.