Humorous Handling of Mistakes: A Personality or Culture-Specific Trait to Combat Adverse Health Effects?

  • Florian FischerEmail author
  • Franziska Carow
  • Hannah Eger


Mistakes, errors and failures offer opportunities for further development, as long as you talk about and work with them. However, there are fears of making mistakes, because a mistake or failure is seen as a threat to self-esteem in individualistic-oriented societies. Consequently, there are more and more discussions about the topic of error culture in society. An open error culture contributes to safety and to health: Mistakes are no longer concealed but conceived and used as learning opportunities. In this context, the handling of errors is of interest, because people from different cultures and within a culture react very differently towards negative experiences. The handling of errors is particularly dependent on individual personality traits. It has been shown in positive psychology that the interpretation of negative events is a key to adequate information processing. This is relevant for making suitable judgements based on the mistakes and, simultaneously, for protecting self-esteem.

This contribution will focus, on a theoretical level, on the effects a humorous handling of errors has in relation to health. This is based on the hypothesis that humour, as a personality trait, is a health-promoting resource. The article will take the perspective of public health, a genuinely interdisciplinary field of research and application, to illustrate the relationship between humorous handling of mistakes and health and well-being.


Mistakes Errors Failure Humour Culture Coping 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Population Medicine and Health Services Research, School of Public HealthBielefeld UniversityBielefeldGermany

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