446 Work Hard, Play Hard

Research by Cheng, David& Wang, Lu (2014). Examining the Energizing Effects of Humor: The Influence of Humor on Persistence Behavior. Journal of Business and Psychology, 30(4), 759–772. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-014-9396-z

Written by Robin N. Fatovic M.S.

You might be serious at work and leave play for when you get home, but what if someone told you that play could also be effective at work?

Across two studies, business psychology researchers studied the effect of humor on persistence at work with 74 Australian undergraduate students. In the first study, students watched either funny or neutral videos. They then engaged in a computer task focused on making predictions, which they believed would end if they answered 10 consecutive questions correctly. However, they did not know that the computer prevented that. In a second experiment, participants answered math-related questions with clear right and wrong answers where the researchers could measure the amount of time, thus effort put into each try.

Results? Participants, who watched the funny video before the tasks, answered almost twice as many questions and spent at least 50% longer on them. The researchers believe that feeling amused helped the participants to avoid burnout and increase motivation. When struggling with work motivation, consider focusing on something funny during your break, exchange jokes or amusing stories with colleagues, or incorporate amusement into your working style! Have fun!

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