Does Laughing Pain Away Have Positive Effects on Pain Tolerance

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There is a definite association between sense of humour and pain tolerance, for instance; humour is a possible reaction to pain, and this paper will discuss the benefits of humour on pain tolerance. It is extremely interesting to witness individuals process and react to pain in numerous ways, for example with regards to depression, many sufferers may joke about it as a form of deflection while actually it is a serious matter, but this is just a coping mechanism and perhaps indicates a slightly dark sense of humour.

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One example comes from a study investigating a correlation between pain with sense of humour and humour (Adrián Pérez‐Aranda et al .2018) where the researchers reviewed forty-one studies that focused on humour and pain, the results of which were categorized under three headings: chronic pain, experimental pain and pain in children. With regards to chronic pain, emotional distress that is produced by chronic pain conditions displays that humour is a way of coping with such pain. Additionally, for experimental pain, findings support the thought that humorous distractions, for instance watching a comedy show, can increase pain tolerance, however it has also been shown that non-humorous distractions have produced similar effects. Finally, similar findings were discovered regarding pain in children to those found within chronic and experimental pain, with a notable presence of studies on clown interventions, that promote emotional wellbeing among children and their parents, however effectiveness in pain reduction is controversial (Pérez‐Aranda et al .2018). Overall, the results from correlational studies display significant associations between the use of humour and main variables, such as catastrophizing and anxiety.

Similarly, a much earlier study (Margaret Stuber et al. 2006/7) involves the collection of data in a pilot study where only eighteen children (aged 7 to 16) were involved. The children watched videos before, during and after a standardised pain task, the task involved putting a hand in quite cold water. The pain tolerance, for example the submersion time, and pain appraisal, such as the rating of pain severity were recorded and examined in relation to humour indicators, these included the number of laughs and smile during the videos and how funny the child rated the video to be. Although humour indicators were not significantly associated with pain tolerance and appraisal, the children showed greater pain tolerance when viewing the funny videos, in contrast to when watching the videos before or after the cold-water task. This suggests that humorous distraction is useful to help individuals tolerate painful procedures (Stuber et al. 2006/7).


  1. European journal of pain (London, England), 03 September 2018
  2. Adrián Pérez‐Aranda Jennifer Hofmann Albert Feliu‐Soler Carmen Ramírez‐Maestre Laura Andrés‐Rodríguez Willibald Ruch Juan V. Luciano
  3. Rx Laughter and UCLA
  4. Margaret Stuber, Sherry Dunay Hilber, Lisa Libman Mintzer, Marleen Castaneda, Dorie Glover, and Lonnie Zeltzer  

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