Humor psychology from Don L. F. Nilsen, Assistant Dean, Division of the Humanities ASU Emeritus College
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Humor psychology from Don L. F. Nilsen, Assistant Dean, Division of the Humanities ASU Emeritus College






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Humor psychology from Don L. F. Nilsen, Assistant Dean, Division of the Humanities ASU Emeritus College Humor psychology from Don L. F. Nilsen, Assistant Dean, Division of the Humanities ASU Emeritus College Presentation Transcript

  • 1 Humor and Psychology LAUGHinG & SMiLinG by Don L. F. Nilsen and Alleen Pace Nilsen
  • Emotions: Anger & Fear 2
  • Real Fear 3
  • Emotions: Surprise & Skepticism 4
  • Emotions: Curiosity & Longing 5
  • Emotions: Love & Sadness 6
  • Emotions: Surprise & Desire 7
  • Emotions: Narcicism & Sexy Face 8
  • What is Golum’s emotion? Does the dental work change things? 9
  • Modern Humans Scholars separate modern humans from primitive humans by giving them these three characteristics: •Homo Erectus (upright human) •Homo Sapiens (thinking human) •Homo Ridens (laughing human) 10
  • 11 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.” • “Therefore, individuals repressing their sexuality or aggression should show a preference for sexual and aggressive jokes.” Ruch [2008] 29
  • 12 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
  • 13 States • Playful Mood = Cheerful, Hilarious • Serious Mood = Earnest, Pensive, Sober • Bad Mood = Sadness, Melancholy, Ill-Humor Adapted from Ruch [2008] 34
  • 14 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] 32
  • This warning to customers about surveillance cameras is “softened” by the allusion to the old TV show “Smile, You’re on Candid Camera.” 15
  • 16 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 people allow themselves to be the butt of other people’s jokes. Ruch [2008] 38-39
  • 17 Non-Enjoyment Smiles Differ in Appearance W. Ruch (2008, p. 22) says that people smile for a variety of reasons, for example, when they are: •enjoying a disgusting or frightening film, •masking negative emotions of sadness, anger, or fear, •flirting, •feeling sadistic pleasure, •embarrassed, •complying to something contemptuous, •have mixed emotions, •feel under social pressure.
  • Analyzing Smiles The next two slides show photos clipped from popular magazines. • One of them is the police mug shot of the Tucson killer. Can you see a difference in his smile? •Conjecture on possible reasons behind the smiles of the various individuals. •What emotions do you see? Genuine Amusement Determination Bravery Self Satisfaction Surprise Happiness •Only one girl is laughing? What’s the difference? 18
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  • W. Ruch, has described various “Humor Styles.” Think about comedians you know. Tell us about a comedian who fits the description on the left vs. someone who fits into the right column. 21 Socially Warm vs. Reflective vs. Competent vs. Earthy vs. Benign vs. Socially Cold Boorish Inept Repressed Mean-Spirited
  • 22 Laughter • Robert Provine says that “Most laughter is not a response to jokes or other formal attempts at humor” • Salvatore Attardo adds that laughter may be caused by all sorts of non-humorous stimuli including tickling, laughing gas, and embarrassment. It can also be triggered by watching or hearing other people laugh, which is why sound tracks were invented to help radio audiences get into a laughing mood.
  • Laughing and Smiling Are So Important to Us That in Our Fantasies We Ascribe Such Abilities to “Fabulous Animals.” 23
  • 24 • People also laugh when they are in social situations that make them feel anxious, ignorant, or apologetic. It could be a sign of false bravado by people being teased who want to show they can “take a joke.” • People never get the giggles, and seldom laugh, when they are alone. We are complimenting someone on e-mail if we tell them, “You made me laugh out loud.” In reality, we are more likely to have smiled. • Jodi Eisterhold has discussed the “principle of least disruption,” which “enjoins speakers to return to a serious mode as soon as possible.” Nevertheless, public speakers like to make the audience laugh because it is an invitation to “come closer” in an emotional sense.
  • 25 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.
  • 26 PHILOSOPHERS’ STATEMENTS ABOUT LAUGHTER • Throughout time, philosophers have made many statements about laughter that are not true of smiling. • Each one has defined laughter in a different way as shown in this chronological listing. 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
  • 27 IMMANUEL KANT: Laughter is an affection arising from a strained expectation being suddenly reduced to nothing. The Critique of Judgment, 1790 WILLIAM HAZLITT: The essence of the laughable is the incongruous, the disconnecting one idea from another, or the jostling of one feeling against another. Lecture on the Comic Writers, Etc. of Great Britain, 1819. 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
  • 28 Henri Bergson: Something mechanical encrusted on the living causes laughter. Laughter, 1900 Sigmund Freud: Laughter arises from the release of previously existing static energy. Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, 1905
  • James Agee classified laughter into six categories Incipient or Inner, Inaudible Laugh • THE SIMPER • THE SMIRK Loud and Unrestrained • THE HOWL • THE YOWL • THE SHRIEK • THE OLYMPIAN LAUGH 29
  • 30 TICKLING • People who laugh from being tickled are not necessarily put in a more receptive mood for enjoying the humor in jokes because laughing from being tickled occurs in a part of the brain different from where laughter that is intellectually stimulated occurs. • People cannot tickle themselves because the cerebellum in the lower back of the brain somehow sends an interfering message to the part of the brain that controls laughter.
  • 31 FINAL CONTRAST OF LAUGHTER 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.
  • 32 A PARADOXICAL CONCLUSION • Chapman concluded 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. • This is why in people’s minds, humor and laughter are so closely associated.
  • Dark Psychology by “banksy” 33
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  • A Rorschach Joke • PSYCHIATRIST: “What does this picture remind you of?” • PATIENT: • “Sex.” 35
  • PSYCHIATRIST: “And this picture?” PATIENT: “Sex.” 36
  • • PSYCHIATRIST: • “And this picture?” • PATIENT: • “Sex.” 37
  • 38 • PSYCHIATRIST: • “And these pictures?” • PATIENT: • “Sex.”
  • 39 PATIENT: “What are you writing down.” PSYCHIATRIST: “That you have many sexual fantasies?” PATIENT: “Why me? You’re the guy with all of the dirty pictures.”
  • 40 HUMOR AND PSYCHOLOGY WEB SITES *COLOR-CHANGING CARD TRICK: *The Happiness Machine: *MOTIVATION: PROFIT VS. PURPOSE; LEVELING THE HIERARCHY (e.g. Internet, Wikipedia, Skype, Facebook, Google, Southwest…): *Selective Attention Test: