Date of Award

1996

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Adele Hills

Abstract

Research investigating individual differences in empathy-related responding has shown sympathy (an other oriented response involving concern) and perspective taking (the psychological adoption of another's point of view) to be related to emotional regulation and more positive affect, and personal distress (an egoistic reaction to another's distress) to be associated with overarousal and more negative affect Separate research investigating the stress-moderating effects of humour has linked coping humour to reduced negative affect and the maintenance of positive affect. The present study tested a model that hypothesised that coping humour would have an indirect affect on each empathy-related variable through positive and negative affect Seventy-eight males and 143 females from the general community, selected through snowball sampling, responded to three self-report questionnaires, i.e., the Coping Humour Scale (Martin & Lefcourt, 1984), the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988), and Davis' (1980) multidimensional measure of empathy The Interpersonal Reactivity Index. Path analysis indicated that the association between coping humour and personal distress was mediated by positive affect for both males and females, with high coping humour scores being associated with high positive affect levels which, in turn, was related to low personal distress levels. For males, positive affect mediated the association between humour and sympathy High positive affect was associated with high levels of sympathy. While negative affect was not a mediator variable, gender moderated the relationship between negative affect and sympathy and personal distress, suggesting future research is warranted to investigate these differences. Since coping humour results in less personal distress, humour seems an important attribute for social competence and psychological well-being, particularly when continually exposed to other's negative emotions, such as in the caring professions.

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