From Science Daily…
‘ScienceDaily (June 5, 2010)
A sense of humor helps to keep people healthy and increases their chances of reaching retirement age. But after the age of 70, the health benefits of humor decrease, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have found.The study has just been published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, and was composed of an examination of records from 53,500 individuals who were followed up after seven years .
A positive effect “There is reason to believe that sense of humor continues to have a positive effect on mental health and social life, even after people have become retirees, although the positive effect on life expectancy could not be shown after the age of 75. At that point, genetics and biological aging are of greater importance,” says project leader Professor Sven Svebak at NTNU’s Department of Neuroscience.
Svebak and his colleagues evaluated people’s sense of humor with three questions from a test designed to measure only friendly humor.
The questions revealed a person’s ability to understand humor and to think in a humorous way, Svebak says. He believes there are many myths and misunderstandings about humor. For example, one myth is that happy people have a better sense of humor than people who are more serious.“But it is not enough to be full of laughter, as we say in Trøndelag. Humor is all about ways of thinking and often occurs in a process or in dialogue with others. It does not need to be externalized,” he says. “What people think is fun, is a different matter. Commonly, people with the same sense of humor tend to enjoy themselves together and can communicate humor without huge gestures. A twinkle in the eye can be more than enough.” He adds that a sense of humor can be learned and improved through practice.
Health and mood
One possible objection to the research findings is that people who have the best sense of humor may believe that they are in good health and are therefore always in the best mood. This would mean that a good sense of humor only reflected a subjective sense of health and well being.To ensure that their findings were genuine, the researchers studied the effect of sense of humor in two separate groups. One group was composed of people who believed they were healthy, while the other was composed of people who felt they were in poor health. But researchers found the effect of a good sense of humor was the same in the two groups.
“This gives us reason to maintain that sense of humor has a real effect on the health until people reach about 70 years old,” says Svebak.’
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John Schinnerer, Ph.D. Specializing in teaching real men about real emotions