Laughter and Smiling Act as Stress Buffers

Researchers at the University of Basel has reported that people who laugh frequently throughout their everyday lives may be better equipped to handle stressful events. And it is the frequency rather than the intensity of a person’s laughter that makes the biggest difference.

It is estimated that people laugh about 18 times per day and this is typically interactions with other people and depending on the amount of pleasure they experience with those interactions. Researchers have reported differences related to age, gender and time of day. For example, it is known that women will smile more than men on average.

Now, the team at the Division of Clinical Psychology and Epidemiology of the Department of Psychology at the University of Basel, have conducted a study in regards to the relationship between stressful events and laughter in relation to perceived stress in everyday life.

For the intensive longitudinal study, an acoustic signal from a mobile phone app was used to prompt the study’s participants to answer questions eight times per day at irregular intervals for a time period of 14 days. The study’s questions related to the intensity and frequency of laughter and also the reason for the laughing in addition to any stressful events or stress symptoms they experienced during the time since the previous signal.

Through this method, the research team was able to study the relationships between stressful events, laughter, and psychological and physical symptoms of stress such as “I felt restless” or “I had a headache” as part of everyday life. The study was based on data from 41 psychology students who were an average age of just under 22 and of whom 33 were women.

The first result of the observational study was expected based on the specialist literature that is, in phases in which the participants laughed frequently, stressful events were linked to more minor symptoms of subjective stress. However, the next finding was unexpected. In regards to the interplay between stressful events and the intensity of laughter which was noted as weak, medium or strong, there was no statistical correlation with symptoms of stress. This may be because people are better at estimating the frequency of their own laughter rather than its intensity.

To view the original scientific study click below

Does laughing have a stress-buffering effect in daily life? An intensive longitudinal study.