4.1. Relationships Regarding the 3Hs
A vast literature supports the positive relationships between psychological resilience, humor, happiness, and sports participation. The relevant research using similar scales and different combinations of these dimensions point out some common aspects. For instance, psychological hardiness and humor influence wellbeing by reducing the perception of stressful events as threatening and enabling the use of effective coping strategies [7
]. Along with happiness, psychosocial variables such as positive social relationships, self-esteem, self-efficacy, self-mastery, and optimism have also consistently been associated with resilience, better health, and reduced distress [30
]. Moreover, “happiness is associated with physical activity participation across multiple countries” [21
]. Furthermore, the literature suggests that extroverts are more likely to enjoy and take part in social activities and sports (especially team sports), use humor, seek recreation, and in turn, have increased tendencies for happiness [31
]. However, in another relevant study, introverts enjoyed sports more compared to other social activities that extroverts enjoy [31
]. This marks sports as being or having the potential to be a common cultural activity that is more likely to be enjoyed by diverse people and linked with happiness and resilience.
In the current study, all respondents had sports participation background and some of the results were relatively in line with the abovementioned literature. The respondents’ scores were relatively high and there were weak or moderate but positive significant correlations between the PDO sub-dimensions and OHQ-SF. In addition, there was a very low-level but positive significant relationship between the HSQ and OHQ-SF. The significant relationships were very low-level and positive between the “affiliative” humor style and the OHO-SF, and low-level between the “challenge and commitment” sub-dimensions of PDO, which corroborated previous studies that found a positive relationship, especially between the “affiliative” humor style and happiness [28
On the other hand, low-level negative relationships were found between the “aggressive” humor sub-dimension of HSQ and the “challenge” and “self-commitment” sub-dimensions of PDO. Moreover, the negative relationship was significant and low-level between the “aggressive” and “affiliative” humor styles, while it was not significant but still negative between the “aggressive” humor and OHQ-SF and “control” sub-dimension of PDO. In other words, while aggressive humor was positively associated with overall HSQ (revealing a low-level positive significant relationship) in the current study, it also came with less “affiliative” humor style, “challenge” and “self-commitment” (a negative relationship with these sub-dimensions). These results could contribute to the discussions on the interpretation of higher resilience (more in women and persons participating in individual sports and with “affiliative” humor style) and humor of any kind as “healthy, positive, better, happier” since the experiences in the process and output are multifaceted, subjective, or not definite regarding their scientific, personal and societal perception, and interpretation. These results were also consistent with some of the complex explanations on resilience, wellbeing, and humor in the literature suggesting that there are also negative associations between hardiness and mental health outcomes [38
]—the processes relating humor use to cognitive appraisals and performance may vary dramatically and may support some aspects of a resiliency model, but not others [7
]. While “humor use can promote distancing from the sources of stress”, greater use of humor was linked with “more external attributions for failure on a bogus intelligence test” and those who “used humor also spent less time and performed poorer on a subsequent test” [7
]. In addition, the higher levels of commitment athletes exhibited, the less likely they were to use humor and behavioral disengagement coping strategies [39
]. It was also found that “athletes with higher confidence levels in their ability were less likely to use self-blame as a coping strategy” [39
]. The participants’ total scores were higher in positive humor sub-dimensions than in negative ones in the current study. However, the overall results and literature revealed the complexity regarding not only the use of negative humor but also the use of positive humor, especially “aggressive, self-enhancing and self-defeating” humor. Their negative relationship with resilience is a recognized state in the literature that can provide more insights into wellbeing or explanations to detect some negative, reduced or adverse performance results. Saying that the studies found a positive relationship between positive humor and coping strategies of teachers, and pointed out positive humor as a “healthy” coping mechanism [8
The mean scores of all 3H instruments were found to be relatively high. In addition, positive humor total scores were higher than negative ones (Table 2
). However, higher PDO sub-dimension and total OHQ-SF and PDO scores refer to higher happiness and psychological resilience [13
]. Thus, the humor aspect, especially, was distinct, providing results for positive and negative humor types as well as adverse meanings revealed through their correlation with other dimensions, as discussed above. Moreover, of the six sporting (2) and socio-demographic (4) aspect, the gender was the only common variable that differed significantly in all instruments in the current study (Table 9
). Furthermore, the significant results in humor styles included more distinctive aspects. Overall, significant differences in the levels of psychological hardiness were found in relation to gender, type of sports, and the number of years that the respondents had participated in these sports (Table 9
). On the other hand, overall significant differences in the humor style scores were in relation to the variables of gender, age, residence and perceived income (p
< 0.05) (Table 9
4.2. Gender, Age, Perceived Income, and Residence
There was no indication of gender forming a significant difference in many studies on resilience, humor, and happiness, even though gender is one dimension always considered in their methods. Thus, there are still many aspects to reveal regarding gender issues. The results in some of the studies on happiness (with university students from diverse departments) [25
], humor (with lecturers at the Schools of Physical Education and Sport [12
] and resilience (with elite cyclists) [41
] illustrated no difference regarding gender.
However, in our sporting research population, women outperformed men since they scored significantly higher than men in OHQ-SF as well as in all PDO items. Moreover, women’s higher scores in positive humor styles (affiliative and self-enhancing) and men’s higher scores in negative ones (aggressive and self-defeating) in HSQ confirmed this. Although the differences in most HSQ sub-dimensions (other than the “affiliative” humor style) were not significant, the features of the instrument enable some interpretation. The instrument includes four humor styles that people use in daily life and that researchers usually distinguish between: “participatory or affiliative” and “self-enhancing” humor styles are positive or beneficial to the self or others, while “aggressive” and “self-defeating” humor styles are negative or detrimental to the self or others [26
]. Results similar to those of the current study were found in research with high school [42
] and university [43
] students in Turkey. In these studies, the male students’ “aggressive” and “self-defeating” (negative) humor scores were higher than the scores of female students. In addition, many other international studies indicate that males frequently use the aggressive humor style [44
]; according to a study with Chinese junior high school students, this was because males tend to exhibit less empathy than females [44
]. Unlike the studies representing the significant difference, the humor styles scores of men and women in the current study were insignificant. This was probably because women with a sporting major exhibited more negative humor or men with a sporting major exhibited less negative humor. Previous studies that did not refer to gender differences and/or provide comparable statistics require further examination and reveal a need for comparable future studies.
However, some results were highlighted in the qualitative literature regarding gender as well as age. A study reporting on responses to “seeing a man riding a unicycle” suggested that women did not make aggressively humorous remarks but had warm, appreciative, and supportive responses with a concern for safety instead, while the “male joke” with repetitive and irritating content, and offensive intent was observed by male and female unicyclists in many parts of the world [47
Moreover, adult males showed aggressive and a stereotyped humorous response that became less frequent in elderly men [47
]. Furthermore, significantly higher scores were found in the aggressive humor styles of research assistants compared with lecturers, assistants, and associate professors and professors; in addition, professors’ life satisfaction levels together with some of their “emotional intelligence” scores (such as coping with stress, interpersonal relationships, and adjustment) were higher than research assistants’ [48
]. Another study [49
] found a relatively similar tendency regarding the humor type and age; while teachers’ perception of the humor type of the school principal did not differ according to many other variables, it differed significantly according to the teachers’ ages (the oldest group scored higher). While the highest educational leadership scores were given to principals with the generative humor type, the lowest scores were given to the principals with a non-humorous style [49
]. In addition, a study of Portuguese athletes highlighted “the role of maturity and experience in the use of more functional and adaptive coping strategies, supporting the developmental and age differences hypothesis in the use of coping” [50
In the current study, too, as noted, there were significant differences regarding age as well as perceived income and residence in relation to the humor aspect only, whereas their correlations were not significant in relation to the resilience and happiness dimensions. In particular, significant differences in “self-enhancing,” “aggressive,” and “self-defeating” humor styles were relatively similar to the literature [47
]; these humor style scores (together with the total score) usually decreased as age increased. In contrast to this tendency (to decrease with age) in total score, the oldest age group (>32) had the highest score in “affiliative” humor style, which was also in line with the literature [47
]. Moreover, there was an increase in the 28–32 age group in “aggressive” humor style; on the other hand, while this group had the lowest score in “affiliative” humor style (Table 4
). These results indicate that although the “positive” use of humor was more likely to occur in later age, such adjustments have not been linear. The broader psycho-physiological, sociocultural, and economic factors linked with certain age groups and contexts may provide explanations for these changing results.
For example, an anticipation of coming conflict, such as competitions or in social interactions, can be related to aggression. Moreover, the 28–32 age group may be more critical in terms of stress factors such as career uncertainties. Furthermore, a weak but positive relationship was found between testosterone and human aggression; testosterone among young adults was high but decreased around middle age, which was correlated with physically aggressive behavior in males [51
]. In addition, the level of testosterone increases when you win, and decreases when you lose in sports [51
]; sporting individuals are inevitably exposed to such physical experiences or memories. However, social studies in sport and violence tend to situate arguments on male aggression away from the on “male nature” in order to point out the greater role of social constructs [55
]. As a social behavior, aggressive behavior is “a product of predisposing personal factors and precipitating situational factors.” For instance, encoded social cognitions are influential, including schemas about the world and normative beliefs about what is appropriate to interact with situational primes to determine behavior [57
]. Accordingly, higher use of aggressive humor regarding certain residential areas and income levels in the current study provided even more evidence for this argument.
Similar to the age groups, there were no significant differences among the residential groups regarding the PDO and OHQ-SF, while significant differences were found in HSQ total scores, “affiliative, aggressive, and self-defeating” humor styles scores (Table 5
). The participants who live in megacities had significantly higher HSQ total scores and “affiliative” humor style scores than participants who live in towns or metropolitan municipalities. Students who indicated their residence as a megacity may live around their university, which has a central location in the capital city. Metropolitan municipalities are locations where surrounding residential areas such as towns and villages were integrated with a city or megacity in recent years. Thus, their results were expected to represent similarities to the results from town, as much as from (mega)cities. The participants who live in towns additionally differed in terms of their significantly higher scores of “aggressive” humor style compared to the respondents who live in a city (Table 5
). Do aggressive humor affiliations of respondents who live in town result from the number of stress factors (such as the campus not being as accessible) or the socialization (acceptance of “aggressive” humor may be higher in towns)? Does the “affiliative” humor of respondents who live in megacities result from the number of factors providing relief in life (such as more accessible living may be possible and different social interactions may be flourishing their perspectives)? There is a need for further research to answer such questions.
Moreover, significant differences were found, especially in aggressive humor styles, with respect to the perceived income. The higher income they perceived, the higher the score they had for aggressive humor (Table 6
). Studies on humor found that socioeconomic status was necessary for subjective wellbeing but not enough on its own. The effects of income on subjective wellbeing are not simple and linear; for example, rising material desires, stressors such as longer work hours, and higher expectations for achievement were among the negative associations with income [43
All in all, alternative categorizations of results are possible which may help varying interpretations. For example, aggressive humor was associated with males, <23 and 28–32 age group, less resilience (self-commitment and challenge), higher income and living in town. On the other hand, “affiliative” humor was associated with females, >32 age group, living in megacity and resilience (“challenge and self-commitment”) positively.
4.3. Physical Activity Participation
In the current study, those who had participated in sports for the shortest time (1‒5 years) scored highest in the “commitment” sub-dimension of the PDO, while the participants who responded “6 to 9 years” scored the lowest, relatively similar to the group that had participated in sports for “10 years or more” (Table 4
). Although the literature usually did not directly provide information about either the number of years of participation in sports or the relationship with resilience, their age-related results in relation to sports, happiness, humor, or resilience are partly in line with the current study, as indicated in the discussion.
Physical activity participation is associated with happiness in many studies and multiple countries [21
]. Moreover, “athletes from individual sports reported higher levels of worry, somatic anxiety, threat perception, and a greater use of venting of emotions,” while “athletes from team sports reported a greater use of humor and substance abuse” [50
]. Parallel to these results, the respondents with individual sports participation scored highest in total PDO as well as in the “challenge” and “commitment” sub-dimensions of PDO (similar to women’s results compared to men) in the current study, while the students with team sports participation scored lowest (Table 7
). The “challenge” and “commitment” sub-dimensions were significantly and negatively related to “aggressive” humor style, and “aggressive” humor style was associated with the number of variables listed at the end of the previous sub-heading. This result is important in terms of respondents’ possible current or future roles in sports fields as employees or employers. Resilience, hope, and optimism, as components of organizational psychological capital, promote organizational commitment and job satisfaction [59
Studies pointed to many stressors related to the social interactions in the context of the team environment, thus further examination of “the relationship between athletes’ cognitive appraisal processes and different coping strategies in diverse individual and team sports” was suggested [50
]. Furthermore, the significant difference was not so high in the use of humor or in happiness regarding the type of sports in the current study; it is likely that respondents were sport sciences graduates and have all had both team and individual sports experience.
Furthermore, studies pointed out the possible relationships between team sports, extroversion, and happiness [31
], as well as the greater consumption of alcohol or drugs by team sports athletes as team sports generate additional opportunities for social interaction [50
]. These results provide more evidence on the complexity of the 3Hs, socio-demographic and sporting dimensions; more specifically, of the resilience aspect in relation to happiness and humor types [7
This study expands knowledge especially in relation to humor styles, resilience, and their use in a facilitative manner, as well as regarding the 3Hs in relation to populations with a sports participation background.
However, there were a number of limitations to this study. The sample used in the analyses was an easily accessible group of graduates from the faculty of sport sciences who have been in pedagogical formation training during the data collection. Therefore, the results cannot be generalized even to the department of sport sciences the participants graduated from (any department other than physical education teaching such as exercise sciences, recreation, or sports management). Although the current study provides some insights into the differences between students participating in team and individual sports and the sporting population in general, the inclusion of non-sporting participants would be useful to determine the meanings of the results providing comparisons between sporting and non-sporting populations. In addition, a limited number of participants from the study population fell within each socio-demographic and sporting variable. Future studies with similar or larger cohorts and with quota sampling regarding sporting and socio-demographic aspects would provide additional validation. Moreover, the additional validation is needed in terms of any aspect that was not provided with comparable statistics in literature as discussed above. Furthermore, there is a lack of such quests to bring together evaluations from both qualitative and quantitative analyses. Thus, qualitative analyses regarding the 3Hs, relative subjective performance, wellbeing, and the perceptions and interpretations of individuals with different backgrounds (e.g., people with or without sports participation, at higher risk of facing stress) on relevant issues would provide valuable insights. For example, previous studies on humor have led to further research on the influence of socioeconomic status, and it was difficult to compare some of our results especially regarding income, residence, and length of sports participation and specific correlations of the 3Hs due to the sparse literature.