Professor Willibald Ruch and Dr Sonja Heintz from the Department of Psychology at the University of Zurich will present their current research on humour and its links with positive psychology.
14.00: Welcome by Dr Bruce Findlay
14.10: Presentations by Prof. Willibald Ruch and Dr Sonja Heintz followed by discussion (see details below)
16.10: Light refreshments served
Presentations and bio notes:
Willibald Ruch: “Current research on laughter, gelotophobia, cheerfulness, and humour interventions”
This talk gives an overview on current research on laughter, gelotophobia, cheerfulness, and humour interventions as well as their practical implications. The talk covers research published in recent special issues on humour “Humor and Laughter, Playfulness and Cheerfulness: Upsides and Downsides to a Life of Lightness” (freely accessible at https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics/5324/humor-and-laughter-playfulness-and-cheerfulness-upsides-and-downsides-to-a-life-of-lightness) as well as yet unpublished research conducted at the University of Zurich. Specific topics include laughter and smiling in positive emotions; lexical categories of laughter; comparisons of individuals with and without gelotophobia (i.e. the fear of being laughed at) in reactions towards emotions; the English version of the State-Trait Cheerfulness Inventory; the 7 Humor Habits Program to foster one’s sense of humour; humour-based positive psychology interventions; categories of class clowns; and impacts of clinic clowns.
Willibald Ruch is a Full Professor of Psychology at the University of Zürich, Switzerland. His research interests are in the field of personality and assessment, with a special focus on humour and laughter, cheerfulness, and smiling. In his doctoral dissertation at the University of Graz (Austria) in 1980, he developed a taxonomy of jokes and cartoons and studied their relation to personality. His more recent work, together with his research team at the University of Zurich, includes humour from a positive psychology perspective; the effectiveness of humour training programs and clown interventions; the ability to laugh at oneself; the fear of being laughed at (gelotophobia); and the measurement of humour. He is a past President of the International Society for Humor Studies.
Sonja Heintz: “An update on individual differences and measurement of humour”
This talk presents new directions in how people differ in their appreciation and production of humour and in how humour can be measured, based on both published literature as well as yet unpublished research conducted at the University of Zurich. This includes self-report questionnaires that assess “humour styles” or “comic styles” as different expressions of humour in our everyday lives. Advancements include the validation of the Humor Styles Questionnaire (Martin et al., 2003) with different measurement methods, which showed that the self-defeating humour style might not be maladaptive after all, but might rather relate to higher well-being for oneself and one’s relationships. Furthermore, the Humorous Behavior Q-Sort Deck (Craik et al., 1996) has been recently employed to derive general dimensions of humorous conduct, including entertaining, mean-spirited/earthy, ineptness, and reflective/benign humour as well as canned humour and laughter. Several new constructs and scales have been introduced into the literature on individual differences in humour, labelled “comic styles”: Fun, benevolent humour, nonsense, wit, irony, satire/corrective humour, sarcasm, and cynicism. Two of these styles, benevolent and corrective humour, have also been investigated in cross-cultural comparisons. Finally, advancements in the area of behavioural measurement of humour appreciation and humour production (i.e., having participants react to humorous stimuli such as jokes and cartoons) will be presented and discussed.
Sonja Heintz is a senior research and teaching assistant at the Department of Psychology at the University of Zürich in Switzerland. Her main research interests in humour are individual differences (humour and comic styles, dimensions of the sense of humour), measurement (humour questionnaires and humour-related behaviours), and positive psychology (relationships of humour with character strengths and well-being, virtuous forms of humour).