Research Abstract

Sampson, L. K., Bowers, K. N., & Albertson Owens, S. A. (1999, November). Humor and well being as a function of age. Poster session presented at the meeting of the Gerontological Society of Aging Conference, San Francisco, CA.

There has been recent interest in humor as a buffer for dealing with negative life events. Preliminary empirical findings suggest that humor can enrich one’s overall quality and satisfaction with life. Using humor may be particularly important for older adults who encounter developmental transitions that may be particularly difficult. The purpose of this study was to examine the relation between humor and well being in healthy community dwelling younger and older adults. We expected that humor would be positively related to well being regardless of age. A questionnaire was given to 224 younger adults (18-35), mean age = 24.429, and 223 older adults (60-95), mean age = 75.462. We asked participants about their use of humor and about their health and life satisfaction; and they responded to questions from both the Humor Coping Scale and the Spriitual Well Being Scale. Both younger and older adults self-reported themselves to be healthy and both groups were comparable in terms of education. We found no statistically significant age differences on measures of health, life satisfaction, and use of humor to cope. Consequently we collapsed across age and conducted multiple regression analyses to assess the relation between use of humor to cope and well being. We found that the higher that our participants scores on the Humor Coping Scale, the higher were their levels of life satisfaction; a statistically significant relation. A discussion of the use of humor is included. This may be interesting for caregivers and other helping professions.