On the Relationships Between Humour, Stress and Flow Experience—Introducing the Humour-Flow Model


In this chapter, we will focus on the link between humour, stress and flow experience at the workplace. Research shows that humour acts as a protective factor and can be used as a coping strategy to deal with stress. There are two potential pathways for how humour affects stress: (1) The use of humour fosters positive emotions which may change the appraisal of stress; thus, it may buffer effects of stressors on the experience of stress. (2) Positive emotions in general, as well as concepts closely related to humour such as fun and playfulness in particular, were found to support flow, the experience of being fully absorbed in a challenging task. When people are fully absorbed in what they do, this helps them overcome potential hindrances in spite of unfavourable and stressful circumstances. In line with this, flow was found to support active and persistent coping with a challenging task and has been described as a ``powerful sustainer of coping''. This is also supported by studies on the physiology of flow. The interplay of humour and flow and their buffering effects on stress can be illustrated in the Transactional Model of Stress and Flow, ultimately leading us to propose the Humour-Flow Model. The model further suggests that the use of humour and the active support of flow experience lead to positive outcomes for individuals. In the context of work, those positive effects on individuals may also positively affect organisations. Promoting humour and flow at the workplace is, thus, a promising approach to support successful coping with challenging work demands.
Original languageGerman
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Humour Research
Number of pages18
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Publication date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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