Advertisement

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

  • Florian FischerEmail author
  • Franziska Carow
  • Hannah Eger
Chapter
  • 22 Downloads

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Mistakes Errors Failure Humour Culture Coping 

References

  1. Abel, M. H. (1998). Interaction of humor and gender in moderating relationships between stress and outcomes. The Journal of Psychology, 132, 267–276.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00223989809599166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abel, M. H. (2002). Humor, stress, and coping strategies. Humor – International Journal of Humor Research 15:365–381.  https://doi.org/10.1515/humr.15.4.365
  3. AFM. (2017). Learning from errors; towards an error management culture: Insights based on a study in the capital markets. Amsterdam: The Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets.Google Scholar
  4. Alharthi, A. (2016). Humour and culture. International Journal of Humanities and Cultural Studies, 1, 119–130.Google Scholar
  5. Antonovsky, A. (1979). Health, stress, and coping (The Jossey-Bass social and behavioral science series). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  6. Balieiro, M. C., Dos Santos, M. A., Dos Santos, J. E., & Dressler, W. W. (2011). Does perceived stress mediate the effect of cultural consonance on depression? Transcultural Psychiatry, 48, 519–538.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1363461511418873CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Beermann, U., & Ruch, W. (2009). How virtuous is humor? Evidence from everyday behavior. International Journal of Humor Research, 22, 395–417.  https://doi.org/10.1515/HUMR.2009.023CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Celso, B. G., Ebener, D. J., & Burkhead, E. J. (2003). Humor coping, health status, and life satisfaction among older adults residing in assisted living facilities. Aging & Mental Health, 7, 438–445.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13607860310001594691CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Connor-Smith, J. K., & Flachsbart, C. (2007). Relations between personality and coping: a meta-analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 1080–1107.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.93.6.1080CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Coyne, J. C., Ranchor, A. V., & Palmer, S. C. (2010). Meta-analysis of stress-related factors in cancer. Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology, 7, 296.  https://doi.org/10.1038/ncponc1134-c1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Csonka, M., & Scheel, T. (2012). Humorously dealing with errors: pros and cons, Oral presentation at the 48th Congress of the German Psychological Society, July 24, 2012, Bielefeld.Google Scholar
  12. Davis, J. M. (2013). Humour and its cultural context. In J. M. Davis & J. V. Chey (Eds.), Humour in Chinese life and culture: Resistance and control in modern times (pp. 1–22). Hong Kong China: Hong Kong University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deaner, S. L., & McConatha, J. T. (1993). The relation of humor to depression and personality. Psychological Reports, 72, 755–763.  https://doi.org/10.2466/pr0.1993.72.3.755CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Dijkstra, M. T. M., & Homan, A. C. (2016). Engaging in Rather than Disengaging from Stress: Effective Coping and Perceived Control. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1415.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01415CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Dixon, N. F. (1980). Humor: A cognitive alternative to stress. In C. D. Spielberger & I. G. Sarason (Eds.), Anxiety and stress (pp. 281–289). Washington, D.C.: Hemisphere.Google Scholar
  16. Dormann, T., & Frese, M. (1994). Error training: Replication and the function of exploratory behavior. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 6, 365–372.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10447319409526101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dressler, W. W. (2004). Social or status incongruence. In N. B. Anderson (Ed.), Encyclopedia of health & behavior. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Reference.Google Scholar
  18. Dressler, W. W. (2012). Cultural consonance: Linking culture, the individual and health. Preventive Medicine, 55, 390–393. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.12.022CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Dressler, W. W., Balieiro, M. C., Ribeiro, R. P., & Santos, J. E. D. (2007). Cultural consonance and psychological distress: examining the associations in multiple cultural domains. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 31, 195–224.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-007-9046-2CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Eriksson, M., & Lindström, B. (2007). Antonovsky’s sense of coherence scale and its relation with quality of life: a systematic review. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 61, 938–944. https://doi.org/10.1136/jech.2006.056028CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Essau, C. A. (1992). Primary-secondary control and coping: A cross-cultural comparison. Regensburg: Roderer.Google Scholar
  22. Frese, M., & Keith, N. (2015). Action errors, error management, and learning in organizations. Annual Review of Psychology, 66, 661–687.  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010814-015205CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Gander, F., Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Wyss, T. (2013). Strength-Based Positive Interventions: Further Evidence for Their Potential in Enhancing Well-Being and Alleviating Depression. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14, 1241–1259.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-012-9380-0CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Geisler, F. C. M., Wiedig-Allison, M., & Weber, H. (2009). What coping tells about personality. European Journal of Personality, 23, 289–306.  https://doi.org/10.1002/per.709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Goldstein, J., & Ruch, W. (2018). Paul McGhee and humor research. International Journal of Humor Research, 31, 169–181 https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2018-0031CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harteis, C., Bauer, J., & Gruber, H. (2008). The culture of learning from mistakes: How employees handle mistakes in everyday work: Organisational and Personal Contributions to Workplace Learning Environments. International Journal of Educational Research, 47, 223–231.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2008.07.003CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Haynes, T. L., Heckhausen, J., Chipperfield, J. G., Perry, R. P., & Newall, N. E. (2009). Primary and Secondary Control Strategies: Implications for Health and Well-Being Among Older Adults. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 28, 165–197.  https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2009.28.2.165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Heintz, S., & Ruch, W. (2019). From four to nine styles: An update on individual differences in humor. Personality and Individual Differences, 141, 7–12.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2018.12.008CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hofstede, G. J. (2005). Cultures and organizations: software of the mind. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  30. John, O. P., Naumann, L. P., & Soto, C. J. (2010). Paradigm Shift to the Integrative Big Five Trait Taxonomy. In O. P. John, R. W. Robins, & L. A. Pervin (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (pp. 114–117). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  31. Kase, T., Ueno, Y., & Oishi, K. (2018). The overlap of sense of co-herence and the Big Five personality traits: A confirmatory study. Health Psychology Open, 5, 2055102918810654.  https://doi.org/10.1177/2055102918810654CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  32. King, B. S., & Beehr, T. A. (2017). Working with the stress of errors: Error management strategies as coping. International Journal of Stress Management, 24, 18–33.  https://doi.org/10.1037/str0000022CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kivimäki, M., & Steptoe, A. (2017). Effects of stress on the development and progression of cardiovascular disease. Nature Reviews Cardiology, 15, 215.  https://doi.org/10.1038/nrcardio.2017.189CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Kuiper, N. A., McKenzie, S. D., & Belanger, K. A. (1995). Cognitive appraisals and individual differences in sense of humor: Motivational and affective implications. Personality and Individual Differences, 19, 359–372.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0191-8869(95)00072-ECrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Labott, S. M., Ahleman, S., Wolever, M. E., & Martin, R. B. (1990). The physiological and psychological effects of the expression and inhibition of emotion. Behavioral Medicine, 16, 182–189.  https://doi.org/10.1080/08964289.1990.9934608CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York, Springer.Google Scholar
  37. Lefcourt, H. M., Davidson, K., Prkachin, Kenneth, M., & Mills, D. E. (1997). Humor As a Stress Moderator in the Prediction of Blood Pressure Obtained during Five Stressful Tasks. Journal of Research in Personality, 31, 523–542.  https://doi.org/10.1006/jrpe.1997.2191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lefcourt, H. M., & Thomas, S. (1998). Humor and stress revisited. In W. Ruch (Ed.), The Sense of Humor: Explorations of a Personality Characteristic (pp. 179–202). Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Maddux, J. E. (2009). Self-Efficacy: The Power of Believing You Can. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology (2nd ed., pp. 334–344, Oxford library of psychology). New York: Oxford Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  40. Martin, R. A. (2007). The psychology of humor: An integrative approach. Amsterdam: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Martin, R. A. (2016). Sense of humor. In S. J. Lopez (Ed.), Positive psychological assessment (pp. 350–353). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  42. Martin, R. A., Kuiper, N. A., Olinger, L. J., & Dance, K. A. (1993). Humor, coping with stress, self-concept, and psychological well-being. International Journal of Humor Research. 6:89–104.  https://doi.org/10.1515/humr.1993.6.1.89
  43. Martin, R. A., & Lefcourt, H. M. (1983). Sense of humor as a moderator of the relation between stressors and moods. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 1313–1324.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.45.6.1313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Martin, R. A., Puhlik-Doris, P., Larsen, G., Gray, J., & Weir, K. (2003). Individual differences in uses of humor and their relation to psychological well-being: Development of the Humor Styles Questionnaire. Journal of Research in Personality, 37, 48–75.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0092-6566(02)00534-2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Marziali, E., McDonald, L., & Donahue, P. (2008). The role of coping humor in the physical and mental health of older adults. Aging & Mental Health, 12, 713–718.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13607860802154374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370–396.  https://doi.org/10.1037/h0054346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McGhee, P. E. (2010). Humor as survival training for a stressed-out world: The 7 Humor Habits Program. Bloomington: Author House.Google Scholar
  48. Mendiburo-Seguel, A., Páez, D., & Martínez-Sánchez, F. (2015). Humor styles and personality: A meta-analysis of the relation between humor styles and the Big Five personality traits. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 56, 335–340.  https://doi.org/10.1111/sjop.12209CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Moksnes, U. K., & Lazarewicz, M. (2016). The association between self-esteem and sense of coherence in adolescents aged 13–18years—The role of sex and age differences. Personality and Individual Differences, 90, 150–154.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.10.049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Nielsen, N. R., Strandberg-Larsen, K., Grønbaek, M., Kristensen, T. S., Schnohr, P., & Zhang, Z.-F. (2007). Self-reported stress and risk of endometrial cancer: a prospective cohort study. Psychosomatic Medicine, 69, 383–389.  https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0b013e31804301d3CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Oxford Dictionary. (2014). The Oxford dictionary of synonyms and antonyms (3rd ed., Oxford paperback reference). Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  52. Plieger, T., Melchers, M., Montag, C., Meermann, R., & Reuter, M. (2015). Life stress as potential risk factor for depression and burnout. Burnout Research, 2, 19–24.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.burn.2015.03.001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Reif, J., Spieß, E., & Stadler, P. (2018). Effektiver Umgang mit Stress: Gesundheitsmanagement im Beruf. Gesundheitsmanagement im Beruf (Die Wirtschaftspsychologie). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Rim, Y. (1988). Sense of humour and coping styles. Personality and Individual Differences, 9, 559–564.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0191-8869(88)90153-5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ruch, W. (1998). The Sense of Humor: Explorations of a Personality Characteristic. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.Google Scholar
  56. Ruch, W., & Heintz, S. (2016). The German Version of the Humor Styles Questionnaire: Psychometric properties and overlap with other styles of humor. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 12, 434–455.  https://doi.org/10.5964/ejop.v12i3.1116CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  57. Rybowiak, V., Garst, H., Frese, M., & Batinic, B. (1999). Error orientation questionnaire (EOQ): reliability, validity, and different language equivalence. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 20, 527–547.  https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-1379(199907)20:4<527:AID-JOB886>3.0.CO;2-GCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sawada, T., Nishiyama, T., Kikuchi, N., Wang, C., Lin, Y., Mori, M., et al. (2016). The influence of personality and perceived stress on the development of breast cancer: 20-year follow-up of 29,098 Japanese women. Scientific Reports, 6, 32559.  https://doi.org/10.1038/srep32559CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  59. Schneiderman, N., Ironson, G., & Siegel, S. D. (2005). Stress and health: psychological, behavioral, and biological determinants. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 1, 607–628.  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.1.102803.144141CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  60. See, C. M., & Essau, C. A. (2010). Coping Strategies in Cross-Cultural Comparison. In B. Mayer & H.-J. Kornadt (Eds.), Psychologie – Kultur – Gesellschaft (pp. 161–173). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Stoeber, J., & Janssen, D. P. (2011). Perfectionism and coping with daily failures: positive reframing helps achieve satisfaction at the end of the day. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 24, 477–497.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10615806.2011.562977CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Toussaint, L., Shields, G. S., Dorn, G., & Slavich, G. M. (2016). Effects of lifetime stress exposure on mental and physical health in young adulthood: How stress degrades and forgiveness protects health. Journal of Health Psychology, 21, 1004–1014.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105314544132CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Trap, R., Rejkjær, L., & Hansen, E. H. (2016). Empirical relations between sense of coherence and self-efficacy, National Danish Survey. Health Promotion International, 31, 635–643.  https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/dav052CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Wanzer, M. B., Sparks, L., & Frymier, A. B. (2009). Humorous communication within the lives of older adults: the relationships among humor, coping efficacy, age, and life satisfaction. Health Communication, 24, 128–136.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10410230802676482CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Weingardt, M. (2014). Wer aufhört Fehler zu machen, lernt nicht mehr dazu. Lernen und Lernstörungen, 3, 23–38.  https://doi.org/10.1024/2235-0977/a000056CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wellenzohn, S., Proyer, R. T., & Ruch, W. (2016). Humor-based online positive psychology interventions: A randomized placebo-controlled long-term trial. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 11, 584–594.  https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2015.1137624CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wellenzohn, S., Proyer, R. T., & Ruch, W. (2018). Who Benefits From Humor-Based Positive Psychology Interventions? The Moderating Effects of Personality Traits and Sense of Humor. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 821.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00821CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  68. White, M. A. (2016). Why won’t it Stick? Positive Psychology and Positive Education. Psychology of Well-being, 6, 2.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s13612-016-0039-1CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  69. WHO. (2018). Mental disorders. World Health Organization. Retrieved 10 September 2019, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-disorders.
  70. Wuttke, E., & Seifried, J. (Eds.). (2012). Learning from errors at school and at work. Opladen, Berlin, Farmington Hills, MI: Verlag Barbara Budrich.Google Scholar
  71. Yue, X., Jiang, F., Lu, S., & Hiranandani, N. (2016). To Be or Not To Be Humorous? Cross Cultural Perspectives on Humor. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1495.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01495CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  72. Zotzmann, Y., van der Linden, D., & Wyrwa, K. (2019). The relation between country differences, cultural values, personality dimensions, and error orientation: An approach across three continents – Asia, Europe, and North America. Safety Science, 120, 185–193. : https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2019.06.013CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations