• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

Release Theories of Humor

Release theory focuses on the psychological and physical processes of tension build-up in people and the release of this tension by humor. According to John Morreall, humor is best understood as a release process in which laughter operates like a safety valve in a steam pipe, releasing built-up nervous energy. Herbert Spencer had a simple version of the theory in which a laughter stimulus evokes emotions but then shows them to be inappropriate. This entry begins with a review of Sigmund Freud’s analysis of humor, which focuses on the way in which humor can help release built-up psychological energy. The entry then examines humor as a potential source of liberation from psychological constraints, as suggested by M. M. Bakhtin and Harvey Mindess. It then ...

Loading
  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles