Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gelopedia: Some antics, semantics, and the language of laughter & humor

I have always maintained that one of the key requirements of an effective Certified Laughter Leader (a laughter therapist, or an expert in laughter) is to be cheerful. “I can’t be happy every day,” said opera star Beverly Sills, “But at least I can be cheerful.”

That, plus my fascination with the importance of semantics and the role of general semantics in happiness, explains my excitement about the most recent entry in Gelopedia.

Exhilaration: "Exhilaration" was introduced as an emotion construct aimed at integrating the various responses occurring at the levels of behavior, physiology, and emotional experience (Ruch, 1990a).”
“Of Latin origin (hilaris means ‘cheerful’) and is used here in its original sense to denote the process of making cheerful or the temporary rise in cheerful state.”

“…an emotion construct denoting a temporary increase in a cheerful state that is observable in behavior, physiology, and emotional experience, and that occurs in response to humor, but also to other stimuli.”

“Although conceptually different, exhilaration and the state of cheerfulness should be studied together, since it can be hypothesized that there is a reciprocal relationship between them. A cheerful state facilitates the induction of exhilaration, and an accumulation of exhilaration responses may lead to longer-lasting changes in the level of cheerfulness.”

“Within taxonomies of emotion categories, exhilaration may be seen as a facet of the positive emotion of happiness (or joy). Within the family of positive emotions, exhilaration may be the one most strongly aligned with laughter; whereas empirical studies of happiness rarely report its occurrence, laughter is an inevitable response category in humor studies.”

From Exhilaration and Humor, Willibald Ruch, In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland (Eds.) (1993), The Handbook of Emotion (Chapter 42). New, York, NY: Guilford Publications, 605-616.

Readers are encouraged to submit additions to Gelopedia to keep it dynamic and organic; a living document. Send nominations to

Click here to get Ruch’s paper

Click here to get the gelopedia


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