SNF Projekt Synergies of Mindfulness and Benevolent Humor: Development and Evaluation of a Mindfulness-based Humor Intervention (MBHI)

Humor interventions, e.g. the 7-humor habits program (7HHP), have shown the malleability of the sense of humor, and the increase in humor did, in turn, yield a certain increase in well-being. More recently, a new model of humor was introduced that distinguishes eight qualities of humor. Some of these, in particular benevolent humor, are indicative of well-being (positive affect, no negative affect, and high life satisfaction), while the use of sarcasm and cynicism relates to low well-being. Thus, benevolent humor should be fostered, yet the traditional humor trainings are not sensitive to these distinctions in humor. As both mindfulness and benevolent humor share conceptual qualities (e.g., are based on kindness and a sympathetic attitude towards the world, humans, and their weaknesses), I hypothesize that a mindfulness-based humor intervention (MBHI) is particularly suited in fostering both qualities.

Three studies will be conducted: In study 1, it will be investigated, whether certain configurations of different humor qualities with dispositional mindfulness show higher relations to well-being than others. In study 2, the MBHI will be designed and the content of the intervention, as well as initial data from a feasibility study (MBHI compared to a wait-list) will be presented. The present-centered, non-judgmental awareness of mindfulness may foster benevolent humor while at the same time filtering out destructive forms (e.g., sarcasm, cynicism), and benevolent humor may focus more on fostering positive emotions and positive relationships. In study 3, the evaluated and refined MBHI will be tested against MBSR and a wait-list control group. I expect that the MBHI will outperform the control groups in terms of fostering mindfulness mastery, benevolent humor, and well-being, as well as in reducing stress.