Humor Dissertation

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Laughter and humor in the classroom: Effects on test performance

Ruth Casper, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Although humor increases arousal and arousal enhances long-term memory, research supporting humor's positive effect on adult's memory is lacking. The present study proposed that laughter only—because of its arousing quality—would enhance long-term memory. However, humorous material containing a cognitive element would interfere with memory processes, thereby not producing long-term memory enhancement. Also, the literature suggests that need for cognition and attitude toward the to-be-learned material moderate humor's impact on long-term memory. Therefore, these factors were examined. ^ Two Introductory Psychology classes were exposed to four humor manipulations during a class lecture: humor that was relevant to the to-be-learned material, humor that was irrelevant to the to-be-learned material, laughter only, and no laughter. Both classes participated in each of the four conditions once. Students were then tested over the information presented in the Relevant and Irrelevant Humor conditions and later over the information presented in the Laughter and No Laughter conditions. Additionally, students completed measures of need for cognition and attitude toward the class on the first day of the study and a measure of arousal after each lecture. Analyses involved comparing the Relevant Humor condition to the Irrelevant Humor condition and the Laughter condition to the No Laughter condition. ^ The hypothesis that laughter enhances long-term memory was not supported; significant relationships between learning and arousal were not evidenced in any of the humor conditions. However, need for cognition predicted learning in all conditions. Women scored higher than males on test material that was presented with irrelevant humor. Males performed better on a test over material that was presented with laughter, and females performed better on a test over material that was presented with no laughter. Hypotheses regarding the moderating effects of need for cognition and attitude toward the to-be-learned material were not supported. ^ Implications of this study are discussed using theories regarding the relationship between humor and arousal. Among other suggestions, conscientiousness may explain the gender differences found in the relationship between type of humor and long-term memory. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Cognitive|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Casper, Ruth, "Laughter and humor in the classroom: Effects on test performance" (1999). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9936752.
https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI9936752

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Since April 22, 2005

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07.24.14 in Humor, PhD Process. Tags: ABD, dissertation, doctoral, doctorate, graduate student, graduate study, humor, PhD

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