This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Humor in Therapy: Expectations, Sense of Humor, and Perceived Effectiveness




Blevins, Teresa

Type of Degree



Counseling Psychology


Research has shown that humor holds valuable power to increase psychological well-being. The present study explored: (1) the perceived effectiveness of humor as a therapeutic tool based on the social influence model; and (2) how the relationship between self-reported sense of humor and ratings of counselor attractiveness, effectiveness, and expertness is moderated by expectations of humor in counseling in a non-clinical sample. Participants completed a measure of expectations of humor in counseling, the Multidimensional Sense of Humor Scale, and also completed the Counselor Rating Form-Short Form in response to two brief excerpts from therapy sessions which demonstrated humorous and non-humorous therapeutic interventions. Research questions addressed the relationships between sense of humor and ratings of counselor effectiveness (including attractiveness, trustworthiness, and expertness); and the differences in these relationships at different levels of expectation of humor in counseling. Results indicate that there is a significant relationship between sense of humor and ratings of counselor effectiveness for some humorous therapeutic interactions. There also emerged significant moderating effects of expectation of humor on the relationship between sense of humor and counselor ratings for CRF-S total scores as well as for scores on expertness and trustworthiness for this vignette. Responses to open-ended questions highlighted mixed reactions to use of humor in psychotherapy, and indicated that it may be an intervention to be used with caution.