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Jameson, Molly M.

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Date Created



The relevant literature concerning the relationship between humorous intervention and academic performance features conflicting evidence. Authors present evidence that humor is able to directly benefit student academic performance (Ford et al., 2012), while other authors suggest humorous distraction may actually worsen performance (Bieg et al., 2015). Among the issues contributing to these contradictory findings are two particularly important considerations: the mechanism by which humor may impact performance and the content of humor used in interventions. One mechanism by which humor could impact subsequent academic performance is working memory (Strick et al., 2009). The first study (n = 31) investigated if a humorous intervention was able to temporarily increase participants’ working memory capacity more so than a set of nature pictures intended to be relaxing. Considering the content of jokes used in an intervention, some authors suspect humor related to the academic assessment is likely to cultivate better outcomes for anxiety and performance (Wanzer et al., 2010). The second study (n = 35) investigated if math-related humor embedded within a timed and difficult math exam could benefit participant outcomes more than unrelated humor. Despite a limitation of significant findings due to low sample sizes, interesting evidence is presented within the results of each study. Follow-up research is needed to further analyze these same research questions across both studies with larger sample sizes, utilizing an in-person and highly controlled research design. Other discussion of results and implications is included.


132 pages

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