Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services


This study attempted to determine the effects of using a humorous intervention as a preventative coping mechanism to lower the perceived stress that can be associated with public speaking. Further, it examined the effects that the humorous intervention would have on both the perceived self-efficacy for the current public speaking and for future public speaking situations. It was hypothesized that a humorous intervention administered before an actual stressful situation in an individual's life would lower stress and also increase their perceived self-efficacy regarding the stressor in the present and in the future.

Participants included 64 college students recruited from an introductory public speaking class at a mid-sized university in the Midwestern United States. Thirty participants were randomly assigned to the experimental group and 34 were randomly assigned to the control group. The experimental group watched a humorous videotape before delivering a graded speech to the class. Both groups completed a demographic questionnaire, the Positive Affect Negative Affect Scale (PANAS)(in the moment and on average), and a perceived self-efficacy questionnaire before the required speech.

Analyses of covariance were conducted using PANAS (on average scales) as covariates. Compared to not viewing a humorous video, participants who viewed the humorous video before public speaking had a lower stress level and greater perceived self-efficacy for future public speaking. These results suggest that the use of humor might be an effective coping strategy for public speaking, and possibly for other stressful situations in an individual's life.