Moving Forward in Fostering Humour: Towards Training Lighter Forms of Humour in Multicultural Contexts

  • Jennifer HofmannEmail author
  • Willibald Ruch


The following theoretical position paper has the aim to outline two important future directions of humour intervention research. Firstly, existing humour trainings have not differentiated explicitly between different uses of humour or humour that may be virtuous or not. Within the realm of Positive Psychology, all virtuous forms of humour need to be identified and interventions developed that aim at fostering these benevolent/lighter forms. Secondly, most humour trainings have been adapted and conducted in one cultural context. Future trainings should consider cross-cultural perspectives to allow for comparative research and practice. Thus, the current paper first gives an overview on the extant literature on the distinction between lighter and darker forms of humour, as well as showing how humour can serve the virtues proposed by Peterson and Seligman (2004). Then, we elaborate on the findings on humour and well-being, as well as findings on existing humour interventions. The second section starts with open questions and hypotheses on how a new generation of trainings targeting lighter forms of humour could look like. Then, we discuss (potential) cultural differences in humour and how this may affect the design of interventions. When aiming for cross-cultural adaptations of the same humour program, several challenges have to be overcome, such as the term “humour” not having the same meaning in every culture, and cultural rules on what can be laughed at.


Benevolent humour Intervention Laughter Positive emotion Sense of humour Training Well-being 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Section on Personality Psychology and AssessmentUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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