Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Laughter Lessens Stress

People who laugh frequently may be better equipped to deal with stress.

Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland collected data from 41 Psychology students (33 were women, and average age was 22 years) via a cell phone app, 8 times per day for 14 days.  Participants were asked about the frequency, intensity, and reason for laughter, as well as stressful events and stress symptoms.  Of the 5,008 prompted questionnaires, 94.6% were answered.  The average time between surveys was 102 minutes.

Researchers found “the association between stressful events and subsequent stress symptoms was moderated by the frequency of laughter experienced at the time of the stressful event.”  When participants laughed often, stressful events were associated with lower stress symptoms.  Intensity of laugher appeared to have no impact, but researchers theorized that people are better at estimating laughter frequency than intensity over a period of a few hours.  The results support the idea that positive emotion has a stress-buffering impact, especially for women, since most of the participants were female.

Takeaway: Cultivate your sense of humor and strive to laugh more often.


Thea Zander-Schellenberg, Isabella Mutschler Collins, Marcel Miché, Camille Guttmann, Roselind Lieb, and Karina Wahl, Does Laughing have a Stress-Buffering Effect in Daily Life? An Intensive Longitudinal Study, PLOS One, July 9, 2020,

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