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Humor Content Versus Structure

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

A distinction is made between the content and structure of humor not only in psychology but also in other fields, such as folklore and linguistics. As a technical distinction in psychology, content versus structure has an illustrious ancestry going as far back as Sigmund Freud's seminal research on the psychology of jokes. This entry discusses the way distinctions have been made between humor content and humor structure in psychology, while also noting some of the ways the terms have been used more generally.

Freud distinguished between joke “work,” or the formal properties of jokes, and “tendency,” or how jokes express aggression or hostility. Freud's work on the techniques of jokes constitutes the first chapter of his Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious. Freud's procedure consists ...

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