South African Family Practice

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Sense of humour and adolescents’ cognitive flexibility

KGF Esterhuyse, N Nortjé, A Pienaar, RBI Beukes


Objective: There is a lack of research on humour among adolescents in South Africa. This article examines cognitive flexibility and humour. The objective was to investigate the roles of gender and language as possible moderating variables in the relationship between adolescents’ cognitive flexibility and sense of humour. Design: A correlational research design was used in which pupils were asked to complete the Multidimensional Sense of Humor Scale to assess their sense of humour. In order to determine the cognitive flexibility of the sample group, Martin and Rubin’s Cognitive Flexibility Scale was applied. Setting and subjects: The initial sample comprised 1 203 adolescents (Grade 11 and 12 pupils) randomly selected from the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga. Of these, a final 392 adolescents qualified after eliminating criteria had been applied.

Results: No significant correlations were found between the total group or for the two genders. Significant positive correlations were found between cognitive flexibility and two of the scores for humour (creating and expressing humour), as well as for the total score for Afrikaans-speaking participants. Significant negative correlations were found between cognitive flexibility and all five of the scores for humour for the Nguni language speakers. Conclusion: This study recommends that culturally sensitive measuring instruments should be developed.

Keywords: sense of humour, cognitive flexibility, adolescents, psychological well-being, language, gender
AJOL African Journals Online