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Appreciation of Humor

  • By: Caleb Warren & A. Peter McGraw
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Humor appreciation is a psychological response that occurs when a situation or a stimulus is perceived to be humorous. The situations or stimuli can be quite varied, ranging from the physical (tickling, slapstick) to the intellectual (jokes, witticisms) to the absurd (black comedies, Internet memes). Appreciating something as humorous produces at least one of three responses: behavioral (laughing), cognitive (judging something as “funny”), or emotional (experiencing the positive emotion of amusement). Although any one response indicates humor appreciation, two or more suggests greater appreciation. For example, a person who finds a pun funny, feels amused, and laughs would be experiencing more humor than a person who only judges the pun as funny.

For thousands of years, scholars, entertainers, and everyday people have tried to explain what ...

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