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Complexity

  • By: Peter Derks
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

It has been suggested that humor appreciation depends on the humorous material's complexity, or how difficult it is to comprehend. To evaluate this idea, it is important to define complexity. Physical science has provided a specific suggestion. Physics has employed entropy, the loss of usable energy, as an estimate of the disorder in a system. As a corollary to the second law of thermodynamics, that chaos is more probable than order and should increase, complexity is a dominant characteristic of any system. This physical definition has been translated into the more psychological measure of complexity used in information theory. Here, “information” refers to the number of decisions that need to be made to bring order into an uncertain system. The more events there are, and ...

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