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Benign Violation Theory

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

Humor is a psychological state characterized by the positive emotion of amusement and the tendency to laugh. Humor can be evoked by a broad range of circumstances, from a simple pun to a devastating tragedy. Most attempts to create a theory of humor begin by explaining when a specific circumstance, such as a scripted joke, put-down, or play fighting, is amusing. Theorists identify the conditions and apply them to other circumstances with the hope of extracting a more general explanation of when humor will occur. A problem with this approach is that it often produces a theory that does a good job explaining humor appreciation in certain circumstances (e.g., jokes), but not others (e.g., play).

This entry describes a relatively new theory designed to explain humor ...

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