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					Humor and Psychology

    by Don L. F. Nilsen
  and Alleen Pace Nilsen


            33             1
             Modern Man
• Modern man in contrast to primitive
  man has been called:

• Homo Erectus (upright man)

• Homo Sapiens (thinking man)

• Homo Ridens (laughing man)
                     33                 2
   The Id, the Super Ego, and
      Tendentious Jokes
• “The Id is a pool for desires and drives.

• As society and parental influence
  (represented in the super ego) do not allow
  the direct expression of sexual and hostile
  impulses, gratification can only be achieved
  in an indirect way.

• There, individuals repressing their sexuality
  or aggression should show a preference for
  sexual and aggressive jokes.” (Ruch [2008]
  29)
                         33                       3
   Traits, States, and Behaviors
   Seriousness vs. Playfulness
• TRAITS: A “serious person” wants to
  function exclusively in the bona fide mode of
  communication. This is not true for a
  “playful person.”

• STATES: We can be in a serious or pensive
  mood, or a silly mood.

• BEHAVIORS: We can tell a joke or clown
  around.    (Ruch [2008] 32)
                       33                         4
                     States
• Playful Mood
  – Cheerful mood
  – Hilarious mood
• Serious Mood
  – Earnestness
  – Pensiveness
  – Soberness
• Bad Mood
  – Sadness
  – Melancholy
  – Ill-Humor     (Adapted from Ruch [2008] 34)
                          33                      5
                Moods (States)
• “While an ill-humored person, like the serious one, may not
  want to be involved in humor, the person in a sad mood may
  not be able to do so even if he or she would like to.”

• “Also, while the sad person is not antagonistic to a cheerful
  group, the ill-humored one may be.”

• “Bad mood might also be a disposition facilitating certain
  forms of humor, such as mockery, irony, cynicism, and
  sarcasm.”                (Ruch [2008] 34)




                                33                                6
                Types of Humor
• “Affiliative Humor” involves the tendency to say funny things,
  to tell jokes, and to engage in spontaneous witty banter.

• “Self-Enhancing Humor” is a coping mechanism.

• “Aggressive Humor” involves sarcasm, teasing, ridicule,
  derision, put downs or disparagement.

• “Self-Defeating Humor” is when a person allows himself to be
  the butt of other people’s jokes.
                                          • (Ruch [2008] 38-39)



                                 33                                7
                       Smiles

• Willibald Ruch indicates that anatomically there are
  about 20 types of smiles, controlled by five facial
  muscles:
   – Zygomatic Major
   – Zygomatic Minor
   – Levator Anguli Oris
   – Buccinator
   – Risorius            (Ruch [2008] 21)



                            33                           8
          Enjoyment Smiles

• “When individuals genuinely enjoy humor
  they show the facial configuration named
  the Duchenne display, which refers to the
  joint contraction of the zygomatic major and
  the orbicularis oculi muscles (pulling the lip
  corners backwards and upwards and raising
  the cheeks) causing eye wrinkles,
  respectively.”
                              • (Ruch [2008] 21)

                        33                         9
       Non-Enjoyment Smiles

• “Smiles not following these definitions are unlikely
  to reflect genuine enjoyment of humor.”

• “There may be smiling involved in blends of
  emotions (e.g., when enjoying a disgusting or
  frightening film), smiles masking negative emotions
  (e.g., pretending enjoyment when actually sadness
  or anger is felt), miserable, flirting, sadistic,
  embarrassment, compliance, coordination,
  contempt, and phony etc. smiles.”
                                        • (Ruch [2008] 22)


                             33                          10
         Humor Styles
Craik, Lampert, Nelson, & Ware
  Socially Warm        Vs. Socially Cold
  Reflective           Vs. Boorish
  Competent            Vs. Inept
  Earthy               Vs. Repressed
  Benign               Vs. Mean-Spirited
                         (Ruch [2008] 41-42)




                  33                       11
              Laughter
• “Most laughter is not a response to
  jokes or other formal attempts at
  humor” (Provine [2001] 42).

• Laughter may be caused by all sorts of
  non-humorous stimuli (tickling,
  laughing gas, embarrassment) and can
  be triggered by imitation (watching
  other people laugh) (Attardo [2007] 117)
                    33                   12
• Giles and Oxford (1970) list seven causes of
  laughter: humorous, social, ignorance,
  anxiety, derision, apologetic, and tickling.

• Olbrechts-Tyteca (1974) point out that
  “laughter largely exceeds humor.”

• Jodi Eisterhold (2006) discussed the
  “principle of least disruption,” which
  “enjoins speakers to return to a serious
  mode as soon as possible.”

                       33                        13
    LAUGHTER VS. SMILING
• Because smiles can sometimes evolve into laughs
  and laughs can taper off into smiles, some people
  think that laughter is merely a form of exaggerated
  smiling.

• However, smiles are more likely to express feelings
  of satisfaction or good will, while laughter comes
  from surprise or a recognition of an incongruity.

• Furthermore, laughter is basically a public event
  while smiling is basically a private event.


                           33                           14
     Laughter is an Invitation
• “To laugh, or to occasion laughter through
  humor and wit, is to invite those present to
  come closer.”

• “Laughter and humor are indeed like an
  invitation, be it an invitation for dinner, or an
  invitation to start a conversation: it aims at
  decreasing social distance.”
                                      • (Coser 172)
                            • (Kuipers (2008): 366)

                        33                       15
• Laughter is a social
  phenomenon. That’s why
  “getting the giggles” never
  happens when we are alone.

• In contrast, people often smile
  when they are reading or even
  when they are having private
  thoughts.



               33                   16
• Smiling is not contagious, but
  laughter is contagious.

• That’s why radio and television
  comedy performances often have
  a laugh track.




                33                  17
     PHILOSOPHERS’ STATEMENTS
          ABOUT LAUGHTER

• Throughout time, philosophers have made
  many statements about laughter that are not
  true of smiling.

• These philosophers include Thomas Hobbes,
  Immanuel Kant, William Hazlitt, Arthur
  Schopenhauer, Henri Bergson and Sigmund
  Freud.

• Each of these philosophers defined laughter
  in a different way:
                        33                      18
       THOMAS HOBBES

• Laughter is “the sudden glory
  arising from the sudden
  conception of some eminency
  in ourselves, by comparison
  with the infirmity of others.”
                • (Leviathan, 1651)
                 33               19
         IMMANUEL KANT

• “Laughter is an affection arising from a
  strained expectation being suddenly
  reduced to nothing.”
        • (The Critique of Judgment, 1790)




                     33                  20
         WILLIAM HAZLITT

• “The essence of the laughable is the
  incongruous, the disconnecting one
  idea from another, or the jostling of one
  feeling against another.”
• (Lecturers on the Comic Writers, Etc. of
                       Great Britain, 1819)



                     33                   21
   ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER

• “The phenomenon of laughter
  always signifies the sudden
  apprehension of an incongruity
  between a conception and the real
  object.”
  • (The World as Will and Idea 1844)

                  33                22
      HENRI BERGSON

• “Something mechanical
  encrusted on the living
  causes laughter.”
             • (Laughter 1900)


               33            23
          SIGMUND FREUD

• Laughter arises from “the release of
  previously existing static energy.”
         • (Jokes and Their Relation to the
                       Unconscious, 1905)




                      33                  24
    THE PARADOXES OF LAUGHTER

• Although laughter is usually associated
  with mirth and joy, perpetrators of
  violent acts have also been known to
  exhibit menacing smiles, or to laugh
  demonically.

• The paradoxes of laughter have been
  addressed by many laughter scholars:
                     33                     25
               JAMES AGEE
• James Agee classified the laughter of screen
  comedians into four categories: the titter, the
  yowl, the belly laugh, and the buffo.

• which he organized into six categories
  ranging from the incipient or ‘inner and
  inaudible’ laugh (the simper and smirk) to the
  loud and unrestrained howl, yowl, shriek, and
  Olympian laugh.


                          33                        26
         GARY ALAN FINE

• Gary Alan Fine has explained that a
  smile in one society may portray
  friendliness, in another
  embarrassment, while in still another it
  may be a warning of hostilities and
  attack if tension is not reduced.



                     33                      27
                 JACOB LEVINE
• “No pattern of human behavior is so full of paradoxes.”

• “We may laugh in sympathy, from anxiety or relief, from anger
  or affection, and from joy or frustration.”

• “Conditions that can evoke laughter include shyness, triumph,
  surprise, tickling, a funny story, an incongruous situation, a
  sense of well-being associated with good health, and a desire
  to conceal one’s inner thoughts.”




                                 33                                28
   D. G. KEHL CITING JAMES THURBER


• There are a dozen different kinds of
  laughter, from the inner and inaudible
  to the guffaw, taking in such variants
  as the laughter of shock,
  embarrassment, the “she-laughed-so-I-
  Iaughed-too,” and even the “he-
  laughed-so-I-didn’t” laugh.

                    33                     29
   Del Kehl went on to divide laughter
  into ascending degrees of intensity:


• There is the simper or smirk, the
  snicker or snigger, the titter, the giggle,
  the chuckle, the simple laugh, the
  cackle, the cachinnation, the chortle,
  the belly laugh, the horse laugh, the
  Olympian or Homeric laugh, the
  guffaw, the boff or boffo, the crack up,
  the roar, the yowl or howl, the bellow,
  the hoot, and the shriek.
                      33                    30
               TICKLING

• People who laugh from being tickled are
  not necessarily put in a more receptive
  mood for enjoying the humor in jokes.

• This is because laughing from being
  tickled occurs in a part of the brain
  different from where laughter that is
  intellectually stimulated occurs.
                     33                   31
• Furthermore, people
  cannot tickle themselves
  because the cerebelum in
  the lower back of the
  brain somehow sends an
  interfering message to the
  part of the brain that
  controls laughter.

           33                  32
       FINAL CONTRAST OF
       HUMOR AND SMILING
– Anthony Chapman did a study in which he
  compared the actions of a group of children who
  knew they were being observed with a group who
  did not know they were being observed.

– The children who knew they were being watched
  laughed four times as often as did those in the other
  group.

– However, they smiled only half as much.


                           33                         33
       PARADOXICAL CONCLUSION

• Anthony Chapman concluded not only that
  laughter can be good or bad, depending on
  the situation.

• But he also concluded that humor is both the
  cause for laughter, and the result of laughter.

• That’s why humor and laughter are so closely
  associated.

                         33                         34
          LAUGHTER WEB SITES
COLOR-CHANGING CARD TRICK:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asxUtX8Hyd4&feature=related

The Happiness Machine:
http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=lqT_dPApj9U

Laughaway (Arya Pathria):
www.laughaway.com

Laughter Remedy (Paul McGhee):
http://www.LaughterRemedy.com




                                  33                         35
Laughter Works (Kay Caskey & Laurie Young)
www.LaughWays.com

Lie to Me:
http://www.fox.com/lietome/

Selective Attention Test:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo

World Laughter Tour (Steve Wilson):
http://www.worldlaughtertour.com/




                                  33         36
      Related PowerPoint


• The Brain




              33           37
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