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Title page for ETD etd-03252016-113431

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Kline, Nora Katharine
Author's Email Address nora.k.kline@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03252016-113431
Title Laughter and Amusement’s Buffering Effect on Stress in a Population with Symptoms of Anxiety: An Experimental Design
Degree Master of Arts
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Leslie Kirby Committee Member
Sohee Park Committee Member
  • laughter
  • amusement
  • stress
  • anxiety
  • buffering
Date of Defense 2016-03-25
Availability unrestricted
Anxiety and stress can have debilitating effects on our physical and mental health. The purpose of the current study was to examine a way to buffer, or protect, people with anxious symptoms from the negative affect produced by a stressor. I examined if co-occurring laughter and amusement, elicited by an amusing video and instructions to act amused, has a stress buffering effect for people with elevated symptoms of anxiety. The study employed a between-subject design with two conditions. Participants were randomly assigned to either the control condition (boring video/boring instructions) or amusing condition (amusing video/amusing instructions). Results did not show evidence of a stress buffering effect of co-occurring laughter and amusement in this specific population of people with symptoms of anxiety. Negative affect post-stressor task significantly increased, rather than decreased (t(27) = - 2.995; p < 0.01). The current study reveals that a stress buffering manipulation that was effective in a sample of the general population was not effective in a sample of people with anxious symptoms. Potential reasons for these results, as well as limitations and future directions, are discussed.
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