..a 2005 study by the University of Maryland School of Medicine showed that laughter helps blood vessels function better" (BIOMED, 2006, p. 420). For academic integrity it should be noted, however, that not all experts agree on this point: Sahakian & Frishman find that that there are "many discrepancies and conflicts in the medical literature regarding laughter, humor, and their effects on the cardiovascular system" (2007, p. 57).
Beyond the positive physiological effects, there is a social component to humor which sociologists and the psychological sciences have begun to explore. Van Wormer & Boes, in their study on the social perspective of humor in the emergency room setting, posit that "humor usually cannot be enjoyed alone, interaction and sharing are important components" but go on to conclude that "in the short term, humor can provide a healthy catharsis" (1997, pp. 89, 95).
It is this aspect of humor which this study proposes to undertake. There is a case to made for the position taken by social scientist like Lauer, that "we find things funny because we are social beings, and laughter is just one form of communication" (2007, p. 22). That position, however, does not address nor allow for the solitary laugher.