When humor is a matter of heart: Effects on emotional state and interbeat interval

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Social Neuroscience
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Manfredi M.
Yumi Nakao Morello L.
Marques L.M.
Boggio P.S.
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© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.Previous studies demonstrated that exposure to humor has beneficial effects on psychological well-being. In the present work, we investigated the behavioral and psychophysiological effects of different types of humor on psychological well-being and on the performance during the execution of a stressful cognitive task. To this aim, we examined the behavioral and psychophysiological effects of ToM humorous and Slapstick humorous comic strips before and after executing a stressful cognitive task. We hypothesized that only slapstick humor could reduce the level of anxiety, increase positive affect and improve performance on the cognitive task. Our findings revealed that, at a specific point in time, exposure to ToM Humor and No Humor strips were associated with lower IBI (higher HR, increase in cardiac recruitment) than slapstick humor. This result suggests that humor involving ToM abilities and No Humor strips elicited a greater cognitive engagement level than slapstick humor. Moreover, in an exploratory analysis we found a positive correlation between cardiac deactivation during the exposure to slapstick Humor and individual empathy scores, suggesting that the empathy skills might influence cardiac recruitment and the level of cognitive engagement during the exposure to humorous material.
Assuntos Scopus
Anxiety , Emotions , Empathy , Humans , Theory of Mind
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