Blue Monday and understanding human behaviour: Dr Natalie van der Wal featured in ITV News

On Monday 20 January, Dr Natalie van der Wal’s research into understanding human behaviour was featured in an ITV news report discussing ‘Blue Monday’, depression and emotional responses.

Dr Natalie van der Wal, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Decision Research, has conducted research into predicting emotional behaviour, especially in groups, as well as laughter therapy and its benefits.

In an article discussing the phenomenon of ‘Blue Monday’, the third Monday of January which has been dubbed the most depressing day of the year, Dr van der Wal’s behavioural research was highlighted as leading the way on developing techniques to predict emotion.

Dr van der Wal’s paper, published for The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, used agent-based modelling simulations to predict how group emotions evolve over time, with a view to developing strategies to improving human behaviour in difficult situations.

The news report also highlighted Dr van der Wal’s recent research into laughter therapy which she conducted at Leeds University Business School, emphasising the alleviating or preventative qualities that watching comedy and laughter therapy can have on depression, especially when practiced regularly. 

Dr van der Wal said:

I conducted a meta-analysis on the effects of laughter therapy on health and found that laughter can improve your depression…you could make this a daily practice, like brushing your teeth.

Read the full article, entitled Is Blue Monday real? on ITV News.