An investigation of the role of humor in the lives of highly creative young adults
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According to the available literature, humor and creativity have had many productive short-term relationships. However, current research does not address the possibility of a connection between long-term exposure to a humorous background and the development of creativity in young adults. What types of connections, if any, do participants make between a consistent humorous influence in their lives and their creative production? What developmental and environmental factors do participants associate with their creative production? Do they spontaneously remember and speak of background humor? The purpose of this study was to examine the role humor played in the lives of highly creative young adults. Research data was collected from six participants through the use of semistructured personal interviews. Questions focused on family and school interactions, memories of humorous instances from childhood or later, conditions necessary to be creative, and making a connection between creative production and background humor. As data were analyzed, four main ideas emerged. First, the development of creativity required a positive support system from one or more sources. Second, humor was an “incidental” in recollections of family interactions. Third, most participants acknowledged the benefits of teaching with humor. Finally, there was some difficulty among participants in establishing a connection between a humorous background and high personal creativity. Findings indicated that humor is a form of creativity that may or may not provide inspiration for creative young adults, depending on whether or not it is acknowledged as relevant in their lives. Ongoing humor was, in general, not perceived as a significant contributor to creative production. But the study also indicated that a personal sense of humor might be the means by which individuals could become more receptive to new ideas. Therefore, exposure to a more consistent source of humor, such as humorous teaching, might better prepare children for life as young adults who are creative in many fields.