Laughing can help end an argument, but it depends on the joke. Three American researchers recently studied humour and its effect on conflict. They videotaped couples while they were trying to resolve a relationship conflict and then rated the following types of humour.
Not surprisingly, they found that these types of humour had different effects on the conflict. Here is a basic summary of how these types of humour effected the conflict:
Affiliative humour was the safest type of humour during an argument. This type of humour led to more laughing, less anger, and more satisfaction with the argument. It seems this type of humour was particularly effective when the partner was highly distressed.
Aggressive humour was sometimes OK and sometimes not. People could take aggressive humour and see that it was a joke when things were calm. However, this type of humour did not work well when the recipient was actually seeking care.
Self-defacing humour did not work at any time. First, this type of humour was hard on the one telling the joke. It led to less satisfaction with the argument and this type of humour is generally connected with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Secondly, it focused attention on the person's foibles and left less energy and attention on the other person who needed care.
Humour is important in relationships. Positive humour is associated with relationship satisfaction and inside-jokes are associated with intimacy and belongingness. This isn't surprising, but before looking at these results I didn't think humour would be helpful during a conflict. Looking back now on my own interactions, I realized that humour is often effective in tense situation.
Overall, it seems that humour can be helpful in arguments, you just have to make sure you're both laughing.
By Dr. Syras Derksen
Winterheld, H. A., Simpson, J. A., & Orina, M. M. (2012). It's in the way you use it: Attachment and dyadic us of humor during conflict negotiation in romantic couples. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(4), 496-508. (http://psp.sagepub.com/content/39/4/496.abstract)
People know that what you eat influences how you feel, but our diet plays a bigger role in our mood than not feeling great after one too many burgers. So how does diet influence our mood? Recently four researchers from Australia tried to answer this question by reviewing the research up to this point.
They found that a lot of research has focused on the effect of a few isolated nutrients (i.e., fish oil, folate, magnesium, and zink). The evidence suggests that low levels of any of these might make a person vulnerable to depression. But before you run to the local pharmacy consider this, all of these nutrients are part of a healthy diet. Maybe the real issue isn't a low level of one or two vitamins, but is instead an overall low quality diet.
It turns out that there is a lot of research to back this up. Overall diet is linked with depression in every age group, from the elderly in Japan to children in Australia to middle aged women in America. In all these groups and many more, western style eating (high fat, sugar, processed foods etc.) is associated with depressive symptoms.
Some of you may be thinking, it is not surprising that bad eating is associated with depression, when you're depressed all you want to eat is junk. That may be true, but researchers have considered this. They looked at people before they were depressed and found that those who ate junk were more likely to get depressed and those who ate healthy weren't.
Unfortunately the story recently got worse. Norway just produced a study that looked at 23,000 mothers and their children. They found that mothers who ate junk food while pregnant were more likely to have children with behaviour problems (i.e., aggression, tantrums). The problems just get worse in the first year. Infants who ate poorly were more likely to have behaviour problems later on, as well as anxiety and depression.
One thing is abundantly clear, Westerner's have a terrible diet. I was again shocked when I read that only one in ten people in the United States is considered to have a healthy diet (National Health and Nutrition Surveys). Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the high rate of depression in our society. It should be mentioned that both psychologists and dieticians can help with these difficulties.
I know this information has affected my eating - at least for today. I hope it does the same for you.
By Dr. Syras Derksen,
Berk, M., Sarris, J., Coulson, C. E., & Jacka, F. N. (2013). Clinical overview: Lifestyle management of unipolar depression. Acta Pychiatrica Scandinavia, 127, 38-54.
Jacka, F. N., Ystrom, E., Brantsaeter, A. L., Karevold, E., Roth, C., Haugen, M., Meltzer, H. M., Schjolberg, S., & Berk, M. (2013). Maternal and early postnatal nutrition and mental health of offspring by age 5 years: A prospective cohort study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (10.1016/j.jaac.2013.07.002)
Science has already discovered that sexual satisfaction is important for a satisfying relationship. So if it is so important, how do you know if you are compatible?
Sexual compatibility refers to whether couples have compatible turn-ons and turn-offs. Do you like the same things. So how do you know if you have the same preferences? Maybe you could just ask your partner and compare notes. The question is, is your partner being totally honest? They may be too embarrassed to tell the whole truth or just want to be agreeable. You might easily think you are compatible, but then find out later that you aren't compatible at all!
Recently, a researcher from Kentucky and two from Guelph teamed up to see how far we should take this sexual compatibility issue. Should people be interrogating their partners, or can they trust their instincts.
To answer this, they took a bunch of couples and measured their sexual compatibility (similarity in sexual preferences) and then looked at their perception of how sexually compatible they were with their partner. Perceived sexual compatibility is whether you think you have the same sexual preferences, needs, beliefs, and desires as your partner.
They found that the perception of sexual compatibility was more important than actual sexual compatibility for relationship satisfaction. People who believe they are compatible are more satisfied with their relationship. So even if a couple has totally different sexual preferences, if they believe they have similar sexual preferences, they'll likely be OK in the end. It turns out we can trust our judgement.
To be philosophical, this is a case of our perception of reality being more important that reality itself. So don't worry, just believe.
By Dr. Syras Derksen
Mark, K. P., Milhausen, R. R., & Maitland, S. B. (2013). The impact of sexual compatibility on relationship satisfaction in a sample of young adult heterosexual couples. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 28, 201-214.
Tickling someone is fun, and it can be fun to tickled (sometimes). So this means that ticklish people are more fun, right?
Darwin thought so. He thought comedy and tickling both "tickled the mind." Humorous people laugh because of funny jokes and because someone tickles them. Sounds like a fun person to me.
This year some Swiss researchers actually showed Darwin was wrong. The Swiss discovered, after a few brain scans, that humour and ticklish giggles are actually quite different.
Tickling does cause some of the same regions of the brain to light up as a good joke, but tickling also lights up the hypothalamus. This region regulates a lot of instinctive functions (body temp., hunger etc.). It also activates the anticipation of pain areas of the brain.
These extra areas of activation explain why people act like they are under attack when they are being tickled, and why you might have been kicked or punched when tickling someone. It also begins to explain how being tickled can be painful and make you laugh at the same time.
Tickling, even with all its mixed feelings, does put us in a fun mood. Two researchers from California tickled people before and after a comedy. These tickled individuals were more likely to laugh than people not tickled before the comedy. Not only that, they also laughed more after the comedy when they were tickled. Looks like tickling gets you in the mood for more tickling.
A ticklish person may not be more fun, but tickling does seem to put us in the mood for fun.
By Dr. Syras Derksen
Medication is often the first line of defense for the public when they face depression or anxiety. However, medication doesn't work for everyone. Only 1/3 receive full relief from medication alone. So what do the other 66% do?
A new piece of research tested whether therapy will work where medication failed. The study recruited people with depression who were not getting better using medication. They took half of these people and had them start Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) with trained therapists. They found that the individuals who received Cognitive Behaviour Therapy were over 2.5 times more likely to get better than those who continued with their medication or other treatment. These results continued when the researchers followed up after a year.
Medication has been shown to be a legitimate treatment for depression, but it often fails. There is now evidence that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy offers hope when medication isn't working.
For more information comparing medication and therapy click here.
By Dr. Syras Derksen
Wiles, N., Thomas, L., Abel, A., Ridgway, N., Turner, N., Campbell, J., Garland, A., Hollinghurst, S., Jerrom, B., Kessler, D., Kuyken, W., Morrison, J., Turner, K., Williams, C., Peters, T., Lewis, G. (2013). Cognitive behavioural therapy as an adjunct to pharmacotherapy for primary care based patients with treatment resistant depression: Results of the CoBalT randomised controlled trial. Lancet, 375-84.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23219570)