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Open Access Publications from the University of California

All in a Day’s Laugh: A Replication and Extension of the Stress-Buffering Model of Positive Affect


Positive affect, which is known to evoke pleasurable enegagement with one's environment, has well-established potential to reduce the negative effects of stress (Fredrickson, 1998). Although there are various facets of postive affect, we principally examined the alleviating effect of laughter--a common operational defintion of positive affect--on mental and physiological stress responses (Herring et al., 2011). We did so by conducting a replication and extension of a study published by Zander-Schellenberg et al. (2020), who affiirmed the stress-buffering effect of laughter frequency in daily life. In our replication, we attempted to reproduce the findings of the original study, conducted a residual analysis of the statistical models used, and assessed laughter-stress interplay across individual participants. In our extension, we assessed the cumulative stress-buffering effect of laughter frequency in daily life by determining whether the original findings apply to populations of varying daily aggregate laughter frequencies. Our replication results are consistent with the original findings, suggesting that laughter indeed attentuates negative consequences of stress. Interestingly, our extension results only showed this stress-buffering effect at play on days characterized by low daily aggregate laughter frequency. Possible implications of these results are discussed.

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