The medical clown is a healthcare practitioner whose character is strictly associated with the performer’s own personality. In this study, the relationships between level of sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), caregiving strategies and humour in Italian and Israeli clowns were compared. Participants were 159 medical clowns (97 Italian and 62 Israeli), ranging from 22 to 74 years of age, who completed a demographic questionnaire, the self-reported Highly Sensitive Person Scale, the Caregiving Strategies Scale and the BenCor. Results showed that higher SPS was related to higher hyperactivation and deactivation, and that hyperactivation was related to lower benevolent humour and greater corrective humour. Hyperactivation negatively predicts benevolent humour but positively predicts corrective humour, beyond the effect of SPS. Deactivation had no relationship to either benevolent or corrective humour. The results are also discussed in reference to differences between the two groups and to previous studies conducted with general populations.
Ainsworth, M. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E. & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation. Oxford, England: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Aron, E. & Aron, A. (1997). ‘Sensory-processing sensitivity and its relation to introversion and emotionality’. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 73 (2), pp. 345–368. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2065
Aron, E. N., Aron, A. & Jagiellowicz, J. (2012). ‘Sensory processing sensitivity: A review in the light of the evolution of biological responsivity’. Personality and Social Psychology Review 16 (3), pp. 262–282. https://doi.org/10.1177/1088868311434213
Aron, E. N. (2013). The Highly sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You. Kensington Publishing Corp.
Auerbach, S., Hofmann, J., Platt, T. & Ruch, W. (2013). ‘An investigation of the emotions elicited by hospital clowns in comparison to circus clowns and nursing staff’. European Journal of Humour Research 1 (3), pp. 26–54. https://doi.org/10.7592/EJHR2013.1.3.auerbach
Benham, G. (2006). ‘The highly sensitive person: Stress and physical symptom reports’. Personality and Individual Differences 40 (7), 1433–1440. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2005.11.021
Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and Loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. Reading MA: Addison-Wesley.
Bowlby, J. (1973). Attachment and Loss: Vol. 2. Separation: Anxiety and Anger. New York: Basic Books.
Bowlby, J. (1980). Attachment and Loss: Vol. 3. Loss: Sadness and Depression. New York: Basic Books.
Bowlby, J. (1982). ‘Attachment and loss: Retrospect and prospect’. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 52 (4), pp. 664–678. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1939-0025.1982.tb01456.x
Brennan, K. A., Clark, C. L. & Shaver, P. R. (1998). ‘Self-report measurement of adult attachment: An integrative overview’, in Simpson, J. A. & Rholes, W.S. (eds.), Attachment theory and close relationships, New York: Guilford Press, pp. 46–76.
Cann, A., Norman, M. A., Welbourne, J. L. & Calhoun, L. G. (2008). ‘Attachment styles, conflict styles and humour styles: Interrelationships and associations with relationship satisfaction’. European Journal of Personality: Published for the European Association of Personality Psychology 22(2), pp. 131–146.
Chris Fraley, R., Niedenthal, P. M., Marks, M., Brumbaugh, C. & Vicary, A. (2006). ‘Adult attachment and the perception of emotional expressions: Probing the hyperactivating strategies underlying anxious attachment’. Journal of Personality 74(4), pp. 1163–1190.
Dionigi, A. (2018). ‘Healthcare clowning: Use of specific complementary and alternative medicine for hospitalized children’. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine (3) 2. https://doi.org/10.21926/obm.icm.1802009
Dionigi, A. (2017). ‘Clowning as a complementary approach for reducing iatrogenic effects in pediatrics’. AMA Journal of Ethics 19 (8), pp. 775–782. https://doi.org/10.1001/journalofethics.2017.19.8.stas1-1708.
Dionigi, A. (2016). ‘Personality of clown doctors: An exploratory study’. Journal of Individual Differences, 37 (1), pp. 49–55. https://doi.org/10.1027/1614-0001/a000187
Dionigi, A. & Canestrari, C. (2016). ‘Clowning in health care settings: The point of view of adults’. Europe’s Journal of Psychology 12 (3), pp. 473–488. https://doi.org/10.5964/ejop.v12i3.1107.
Dionigi, A., Flangini, R. & Gremigni, P. (2012). ‘Clowns in hospitals’ in P. Gremigni (ed.), Humor and Health Promotion, New York, NY: Nova Science Publisher, pp. 213–227.
Dionigi, A., Ruch, W. F. & Platt, T. (2014). ‘Components and determinants of the shift between own persona and the clown persona: A hierarchical analysis’. The European Journal of Humour Research 1(4), p. 58–80.
Dunn, W. (2001). ‘The sensations of everyday life: Empirical, theoretical, and pragmatic considerations’. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy 55 (6), pp. 608–620. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.55.6.608
Ford, K., Courtney-Pratt, H., Tesch, L. & Johnson, C. (2014). ‘More than just clowns–Clown doctor rounds and their impact for children, families and staff’. Journal of Child Health Care 18(3), pp. 286–296.
Freud, S. (1960). Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious. New York, NY: Norton.
Greengross, G. & Miller, G. (2011). ‘Humour ability reveals intelligence, predicts mating success, and is higher in males’. Intelligence, 39 (4), pp. 188–192.
Greengross, G. & Miller, G. F. (2009). ‘The Big Five personality traits of professional comedians compared to amateur comedians, comedy writers, and college students’. Personality and Individual Differences 47 (2), pp. 79–83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2009.01.045
Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to Mediation, Moderation, and Conditional Process Analysis: A Regression Based Approach. New York: The Guilford Press.
Heintz, S., Ruch, W., Platt, T., Pang, D., Carretero-Dios, H., Dionigi, A., ... & Chłopicki, W. (2018). ‘Psychometric comparisons of benevolent and corrective humour across 22 countries: The virtue gap in humour goes international’. Frontiers in Psychology 9 (92). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00092
Jerome, E. M. & Liss, M. (2005). ‘Relationships between sensory processing style, adult attachment, and coping’. Personality and Individual Differences 38 (6), pp. 1341–1352. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2004.08.016
Kazarian, S. S. & Martin, R. A. (2004). ‘Humour styles, personality, and well‐being among Lebanese university students’. European Journal of Personality 18 (3), pp. 209–219.
Kinnealey, M. & Fuiek, M. (1999). ‘The relationship between sensory defensiveness, anxiety, depression and perception of pain in adults’. Occupational Therapy International 6 (3), pp. 195–206. https://doi.org/10.1002/oti.97
Klein, A. J. (Ed.). (2003). Humour in Children’s Lives: A Guidebook for Practitioners. USA: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Kotthoff, H. (2006). ‘Gender and humor: The state of the art’. Journal of Pragmatics 38 (1), pp. 4–25.
Lampert, M. D. & Ervin-Tripp, S. M. (2006). ‘Risky laughter: Teasing and self-directed joking among male and female friends’. Journal of Pragmatics 38 (1), pp. 51–72.
Lewis, M. W. (2000). ‘Exploring paradox: Toward a more comprehensive guide’. Academy of Management Review 25 (4), pp. 760–776.
Lionetti, F., Aron, A., Aron, E. N., Burns, G. L., Jagiellowicz, J. & Pluess, M. (2018). ‘Dandelions, tulips and orchids: Evidence for the existence of low-sensitive, medium-sensitive and high-sensitive individuals’. Translational Psychiatry, 8 (1), 24. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-017-0090-6
Martin, R. A. (2007). The Psychology of Humour: An Integrative Approach. Burlington, MA. Elsevier Academic Press.
Martin, R. A., Puhlik-Doris, P., Larsen, G., Gray, J. & Weir, K. (2003). ‘Individual differences in uses of humor and their relation to psychological well-being: Development of the Humor Styles Questionnaire’. Journal of Research in Personality 37 (1), pp. 48–75.
McCrae, R. R. & Costa, P. T. Jr. (2003). Personality in Adulthood: A Five-Factor Theory Perspective. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Meyer, B. & Carver, C. S. (2000). ‘Negative childhood accounts, sensitivity, and pessimism: A study of avoidant personality disorder features in college students’. Journal of Personality Disorders 14 (3), pp. 233–248. https://doi.org/10.1521/pedi.2000.14.3.233
Mickes, L., Walker, D. E., Parris, J. L., Mankoff, R. & Christenfeld, N. J. (2012). ‘Who’s funny: Gender stereotypes, humour production, and memory bias’. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 19 (1), pp. 108–112.
Miczo, N., Averbeck, J. M. & Mariani, T. (2009). ‘Affiliative and aggressive humor, attachment dimensions, and interaction goals’. Communication Studies 60 (5), pp. 443–459.
Mikulincer, M. & Shaver, P. R. (2016). Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Mikulincer, M. & Shaver, P. R. (2012). ‘Adult attachment orientations and relationship processes’. Journal of Family Theory & Review 4 (4), pp. 259–274. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1756-2589.2012.00142.x
Mikulincer, M. & Shaver, P. R. (2007). Attachment in adulthood: Structure, dynamics, and change. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Peacock, L. (2009). Serious Play. Modern Clown Performances. Bristol: Intellect Books.
Peterson, C. & Seligman, M. E. (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (Vol. 1). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ruch, W. & Heintz, S. (2016a). ‘The virtue gap in humour: Exploring benevolent and corrective humour’. Translational Issues in Psychological Science 2 (1), pp. 35–45. https://doi.org/10.1037/tps0000063
Ruch, W., & Heintz, S. (2016b). ‘The German version of the Humor Styles Questionnaire: Psychometric properties and overlap with other styles of humor’. Europe’s Journal of Psychology 12 (3), pp. 434–455.
Saroglou, V. & Scariot, C. (2002). ‘Humor Styles Questionnaire: Personality and educational correlates in Belgian high school and college students’. European Journal of Personality 16 (1), pp. 43–54.
Shaver, P. R., Mikulincer, M. & Shemesh-Iron, M. (2010). ‘A behavioral-systems perspective on prosocial behavior’, in
Mikulincer, M. & Shaver, P. R. (eds.), Prosocial Motives, Emotions, and Behavior: The Better Angels of Our Nature, Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association, pp. 73–91
Scheyer, R., Nuttman-Shwartz, O. & Ziyoni, H. (2008). ‘The definition of the medical clown’s role with adult patients’. Harefuah 147 (1), pp. 25–29.
Smolewska, K. A., McCabe, S. B. & Woody, E. Z. (2006). ‘A psychometric evaluation of the highly sensitive person: The components of sensory-processing sensitivity and their relation to the BIS/BAS and “Big Five”’. Personality and Individual Differences 40 (6), pp. 1269–1279. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2005.09.022
Sobocko, K. & Zelenski, J. M. (2015). ‘Trait sensory-processing sensitivity and subjective wellbeing: Distinctive associations for different aspects of sensitivity’. Personality and Individual Differences 83, pp. 44–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.03.045
Strollo, M. R., Romano, A. & Rea, G. (2015). ‘Social commitment of volunteering in clown-therapy: An empowering empirical research’. Ricerche di Pedagogia e Didattica. Journal of Theories and Research in Education 10 (3), pp. 45–79.
Taher, D., Kazarian, S. S. & Martin, R. A. (2008). ‘Validation of the arabic humor styles questionnaire in a community sample of lebanese in Lebanon’. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 39 (5), pp. 552–564.