Appreciation of Humor Is Decreased Among Patients With Parkinson's Disease

Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2012 Feb;18(2):144-8. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2011.09.004. Epub 2011 Oct 14.


Objective: To test whether appreciation of humor might be a non-motor function affected by Parkinson's disease (PD).

Methods: Thirty-nine PD patients and 38 healthy controls participated in this study. Appreciation of humor and effect of the presentation method utilized were assessed. Sense of humor was evaluated by the sense of humor questionnaire (SHQ-6). Humor appreciation was tested using three methods of presentation: videos, audio sketches and pictorial cartoons, each portraying both obvious and non-obvious humor content. Depression, anxiety, cognition, disease severity and quality of life were measured by standardized questionnaires and correlated with humor outcomes.

Results: Patients with PD rated humor content lower than controls on every method of presentation as well as on the SHQ-6 (p = 0.004). The greatest between-group difference was noted when the material was presented visually via pictorial cartoons (p < 0.0001). In addition, obvious humor content was rated higher than non-obvious content by the PD group in all three presentation methods (p < 0.05). The degree of depression and anxiety did not influence these results.

Conclusions: Patients with PD have a decreased sense of humor compared to healthy controls. Utilizing audio methods of presentation and humor in an obvious mode appears to be the preferred approach for eliciting responses to humor in a PD population.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wit and Humor as Topic / psychology*