Coping with stress: Social works students and humour

Carmen Moran, lesley Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


In Social Work, humour is being increasingly accepted as a strategy for coping with stress. The literature does not indicate whether humour is acquired on the job or is a characteristic of people entering the social work profession. This study examined sense of humour in thirty-two undergraduate social work students and its relationships with self-ratings of stress and stress-related physical symptoms. In contrast with other research findings, the measure 'liking humour' correlated positively with stress and symptoms, indicating liking humour was associated with poorer wellbeing. On the other hand, the tendency to use humour socially correlated with low levels of stress. Using humour socially may help people obtain social support, which is responsible for reducing the effects of stress. That is, the support engendered by humour may be more important in reducing stress than humour itself. Seeing supervisors use humour gives students permission to laugh and focus away from the serious side for a while. While accepting the complexity of humour and caution necessary in some circumstances, we recommend that the topic of humour is formally included in the social work curriculum. Teaching about humour may bring humour itself into the classroom, which in turn enhances other aspects of learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-517
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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