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The application of emotion regulation skills in prevention of depression has been attempted repeatedly, without much success so far. Researchers from SWPS University will investigate the effects of humor, one of the emotion regulation strategies, on individuals prone to depression. It is a novel approach as humor has not been studied in this context before. The goal of the study is to develop effective interventions for people susceptible to depression.

 

Research project

TURNING DEPRESSED MOOD INTO A jOKE

Is it beneficial? The impact of humor on emotion regulation in individuals vulnerable to depression.



Research Unit
UNI SWPS english
Grant Amount
276 000 PLN
Funding Source
NCN logo poziom en2

Duration of Research Project: August 2015–August 2018

The application of emotion regulation skills in prevention of depression has been attempted repeatedly, without much success so far. Researchers from SWPS University will investigate the effects of humor, one of the emotion regulation strategies, on individuals prone to depression. It is a novel approach as humor has not been studied in this context before. The goal of the study is to develop effective interventions for people susceptible to depression.

Project Objectives

Depression and Emotion Regulation Strategies

Depression is one of the most severe and the most common mental disorders. Recent studies have shown that depressive episodes can be a consequence of dysfunctional negative emotion regulation, therefore there is a need to develop adaptive emotion regulation strategies, in the group of people at high risk of depression. So far, the efficacy of psychological interventions in this area has been limited, mainly because it is still unknown, which emotion regulation strategies would be optimal to employ in the treatment of individuals vulnerable to depression.

Humor as Emotion Regulation Strategy

None of the studies conducted so far have included humor, which is commonly considered to be an adaptive method of coping with negative emotions. Humor seems to be a particularly beneficial strategy for individuals vulnerable to depression, because it allows to reinterpret the situation, distance oneself from a stressful stimuli, and distract oneself from negative thinking. Additionally, it elicits positive emotions, which have been proven to be effective in reducing persistent negative emotions.

The aim of the project is to determine whether humor is an adaptive emotion regulation strategy for individuals prone to depression and to compare it with positive reappraisal. Another goal is to find out what type of humor is optimal for the people at high risk of depression and to determine the most important moderators and mediators of the studied relations.

Methodology

Two studies, with the total of 110 participants, will be conducted during the project. In line with the common research standard, the vulnerability to depression will be operationalized as the presence of at least one past episode of depression. For that reason, the participants will be recruited from a group of patients in remission from a major depressive episode.

Each study will consist of two stages: the initial two-step assessment (a qualifying assessment and an individual differences assessment) and the experiment itself. Study 1 will include three experimental conditions concerning various emotion regulation strategies (e.g. humor, positive reappraisal, and spontaneous response). Study 2 will employ two conditions associated with various types of humor (i.e. situational and non-situational humor). At the beginning of each experiment, the researchers will elicit negative emotions in participants. Next, the participants will be asked to use a specific emotion regulation strategy. The intensity of the positive and negative emotions, as well as other variables linked to the emotional state, will be measured several times. Both experimental procedures will be varied in terms of the methods used to elicit negative emotions (i.e. observation vs. recollection of personal events) and also in terms of how the emotion regulation strategy is applied (i.e. commentary vs mental simulation).

Application of Research Results

The results of the study will help to determine whether humor is an adaptive emotion regulation strategy for individuals vulnerable to depression and how effective it is as compared with other strategies, such as a positive reappraisal. Additionally, the results will help to specify what type of humor is optimal for people at a high risk of depression and what is the importance of individual variables, such as trait-cheerfulness, self-efficacy, gelotophobia, and the coping style of an individual. Moreover, the project will provide efficacy data on humor as emotion regulation strategy, including the mechanisms of distracting oneself from negative information and distancing oneself from a situation. In addition, the project will provide measurable, theoretical effects, such as contribution to the development of clinical psychology, positive psychology, research on mental health and emotion regulation. It will also help to develop preventive programs and therapeutic interventions aimed at reducing episodes of relapse and recurrence in unipolar depression.

Researchers

258 anna braniecka

 

Anna Braniecka, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator
clinical psychologist
abraniecka@swps.edu.pl

 RESEARCHERS:

Anna Radomska, Ph.D.
Agnieszka Ciołkiewicz, M.A.
Monika Lipiec, M.A.
Małgorzata Hanć

 

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