Publication Date

Spring 2019

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Sally Kuhlenschmidt (Advisor) and Sam McFarland

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts in Psychology, Clinical Concentration


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been demonstrated to be one of the most popular and useful psychological interventions used today (Ellis & Harper,1975; Bredemeier, Beck, & Grant, 2018; Jaya, Ascone, & Lincoln, 2018). However, a limitation of CBT is that it pathologizes behavior. Positive psychology is a supplementary theory that focuses on increasing positive emotions during psychological interventions and does not pathologize behavior. A limitation of studying positive emotions is due to the overlapping relationships between positive emotions. Positive emotions are highly related and are difficult to measure individually as opposed to negative emotions. Humor, amusement/mirth, is an observable positive emotion. Humor is a distinct positive emotion which can result in laughter. This article reviews the subset of positive psychological interventions (PPI) focused on humor compatible with CBT. CBT is the chosen intervention because the contemporary theories of humor are easily applied to traditional CBT methods. Correlational studies suggest that PPIs may improve self-regulation, improve critical thinking, and increase motivation to engage with psychological intervention. However, randomized controlled studies are needed to confirm any direct benefits of humor based PPI therapy over traditional CBT interventions.


Applied Behavior Analysis | Clinical Psychology | Cognitive Psychology