Re: Humor? (was) genetic unselfishness

From: Dana Hedberg (
Date: Tue Jan 25 2000 - 09:56:13 MST wrote:

> Science doesn't explore laughter much. Perhaps there is an irony to that
> somewhere...
Actually, that isn't entirely true. While it is true that concentrated
psychological research into the area of laughter and humor didn't really
start until the 1960's, there has been quite a bit of study conducted
since then. And of course, this doesn't even count the historical and
sociological analysis of humor.

A search on for the keywords: 'psychological studies of
laughter and humor' produced about 1400 results. Obviously, each one is
not a peer-reviewed journal article, but the majority of them looked
like they would have something useful to contribute. Although, I will
grant you that humor, laughter and their effects both psychological and
physiologically haven't been studied nearly as much as anger or anxiety.

> It's often a "surprise mechanism" that triggers laughter, not only cruelty
> and oddities.

One of the things that has received a lot of recent attention has been
the primary factors responsible for eliciting a laugh, or feeling of
mirth, when perceiving a specific situation. And the "surprise
mechanism" you mention above seems to be one of the major contributors.
People have a certain expectation, or schema, with which they use to
heuristically predict how a situation should go ("garden pathing" is a
very simplistic example of this). When this schema is violated in a
novel way, this can lead to laughter and our perception that something
humorous just happened.


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