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Incongruity and Resolution

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

Incongruity has been mentioned as an explanation of humor possibly since the time of Aristotle and definitely since the Renaissance. In many different forms, it has been proposed as an explanation for humor across the history of the philosophy of humor and, more recently, as it has been part of the psychological and cognitive approaches to humor. Often, humor is seen as the result of a recognition of incongruity followed by its resolution. This entry deals first with the definition of incongruity and then with the definition of resolution of said incongruity.

The concept of incongruity corresponds to that of surprise. Surprise focuses on the emotional aspect of the process, whereas incongruity highlights the cognitive aspect. Put differently, incongruity is a stimulus, and surprise is a ...

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