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New Research on Laughter in the Workplace

Posted by Brian Spence on Jan 23, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Laughter, Career AdviceHave you ever heard the phrase, "Laughter is the best medicine"? Researchers from Australian National University actually put that concept to the test in the workplace! The results? Having something to laugh about really does help in stressful situations.

How did the research work?

Participants in the research experiments were first shown a simulation of a coworker yelling at them assertively. Then, they were shown either a humorous video or a video that was not humorous. The results of the experiments showed that those who watched the humorous video felt more powerful afterward. They felt like maybe someone would listen to them.

Why does feeling powerful help in cases of workplace aggression?

When someone yells at you, you feel weaker, like less of yourself. The person yelling is psychologically tearing you down. If humor builds up your psychological well-being and makes you feel more powerful, then you'll be better able to deal with the aggression. The humor actually downplays the aggression. Dr. David Cheng, the lead researcher from ANU, notes that the best way to deal with bullying in the workplace is "to stamp out the poor behavior." But humor can help if the poor behavior is not immediately stamped out.

Is there more research concerning humor in the workplace?

Yes, this research is part of a larger study about laughter in the workplace. Dr. Cheng conducted a study in 2015 which showed that humor increased productivity. In this study, participants were given boring, monotonous math questions to answer. They were given a ten minute break, during which one group was shown humorous videos. The participants were then told they could stop their work at any time. The researchers measured how long the participants worked and how well they answered the questions. The group that was exposed to humor during the break worked double the time of the other group and had the same level of accuracy.

For information on this and related topics, visit the Career Advice and Productivity sections of our blog.


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