Humor and Trauma-Related Psychopathology Among Survivors of Terror Attacks and Their Spouses

Besser, Avi; Weinberg, Michael; Zeigler-Hill, Virgil; Ataria, Yochai; Neria, Yuval

The goal of this study was to examine the bidirectional relationships between
humor and trauma-related psychopathology (posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], depression, and anxiety symptoms) among 105 dyads consisting of Israelis who were injured during terror attacks and their spouses (N = 210). An actor–partner interdependence model (APIM) was applied as part of a structural equation modeling (SEM) analysis aimed at examining the associations between the use of different styles of humor and trauma-related psychopathology. Consistent with our hypotheses, results suggested that benign styles of humor were associated with survivors’ lower levels of trauma-related symptoms (actor effects) and also had a buffering effect for the spouse (partner effects). More specifically, the use of self-enhancing humor by survivors was negatively associated with spousal symptoms and the use of affiliative humor by spouses was negatively associated with psychopathology symptoms reported by survivors. The results of this study shed light on the role that benign humor may play in coping with traumatic events while taking into account the dyadic relationships among survivors and their spouses. Theoretical and clinical implications of the findings are discussed.


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Taylor and Francis
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August 12, 2016