All About Humor

Humor is serious business. Sure, there's simple comedy like a pie in the face or an Adam Sandler movie, but a lot of jokes display real intellect, and despite much reflection and experimentation—both in labs and on stages—no one has yet discovered a unified theory of hilarity. Humor can be used for bonding, releasing tension, attracting a mate, putting a rival in his place, or entertaining a child. It has as many functions and styles as there are variations on the light bulb joke. 

Recent Posts on Humor

Your Over-Parenting Can Damage Your Child's Education

Teachers have gone from mentoring students to monitoring students. They're urged to report accounts of unblemished success to the parents. That's not an education.

Yesterday, I Beat a Six Year-Old

I had the bright idea of racing my six year old neice to prove that I was immortal....I'm not

Dear Beach-Going Friends...

Will someone think the patterns on my bathing suit secretly spell out the phrase “Do not resuscitate”?

Humor, Screens & Children

By Jamie Krenn Ph.D. on August 18, 2015 in Screen Time
A sense of humor can lend itself as a protective factor for troubled or uncertain situations one may have through life’s journey. Included in this piece are some ways to think about humor development as applied to current children’s television programming from birth to elementary school years.

Do You Prefer You Pets to Your Friends?

Pets are like a combination between court jesters and strict Freudian therapists: They can make you feel better about the world while never saying a word.

Workplace Humor That Won't Get You Fired

By Judy Carter on August 11, 2015 in Stress Is a Laughing Matter
Want to get laughs without getting fired? Here are six rules for telling jokes that are SFW- Safe For Work!

Your Lower Strengths Matter (Thanks Jim Gaffigan!)

Humor is my lowest character strength. Yet, it is of great value. Here's why: New research by Rene Proyer and colleagues shows that expressing either our highest character strengths OR our lowest strengths can be associated with higher levels of happiness. This supports one of the VIA Institute’s core teachings: All 24 character strengths matter.

Laughing Matters During Presidential Primary Debates

By Gregg Murray Ph.D. on August 05, 2015 in Caveman Politics
How will we, the American Public, evaluate the candidates in the Republican presidential debates?

Making the World More Fun

By Bernard L. De Koven on August 05, 2015 in On Having Fun
And even if it’s not singing and dancing and parading but playing some silly game, what you’re doing, along with whatever you’re doing for each other, is honestly and really making the whole world just a little more fun.

Nothing Says "Old Dude" Like Getting a Motorcycle

What is it with old dudes and motorcycles? Is it a last defiant statement that the real man hiding inside looks more like Steve McQueen in "The Great Escape" than Kevin James in "Paul Blart: Mall Cop?" Or is it the simple joy of having something powerful throbbing between your legs once again?

6 Ways to Get What You Want (Without Being Called a Whiner)

We tend to associate whining with the behavior of toddlers, but there are plenty of adults who could equal the whininess of any two-year-old. These 6 tips will help you turn your complaints into effective strategies to get others to gladly give you what you want.

This Proves That Men Are Visual Creatures

By Donna Barstow on June 29, 2015 in Ink Blots Cartoons
Some men are wonderful conversationalists, but others don't say much at all, and prefer to let their eyes do the talking.

Ladies and Gentlemen

While these days I don’t think we’re hearing “lady” (and “ladies”) as much as “gentleman” (and “gentlemen”), when we do hear “lady,” it still carries an aura of goodness. But this association with goodness seems to be much more the case for lady than for gentleman. “Gentleman” is still widely used simply as a synonym for “man," sometimes even the perpetrator of a crime.

This May Be the Secret to Happiness in Relationships

You may think the best way to deepen your relationship is to have serious, deep discussions about your thoughts and feelings. However, it may be that sharing a smile rather than deep feelings can be as good, if not better, for your relationship’s long-term health.

Finding the Humor in Sadness (and Monsters)

By Mark Peters on June 11, 2015 in Laughing Stock
Frank Lesser discusses comedy and his book Sad Monsters.

Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

By Fredric Neuman M.D. on June 10, 2015 in Fighting Fear
"Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder", made more scientific by the abstinence-desire index (the ADI)

Aerobic Laughing: A New Weight Loss Plan

Just like all of us, I've been captivated by Caitlyn Jenner's courageous transformation. She inspired me to take a look at my own body and finally find a way to become the skinny person I've always wanted to be—via laughter.

Should I Quit?

Science says, "You should quit your job."

Thinking about Death and Pain Makes People Funnier

Death anxiety may promotes humor creativity

Facing Our Two-Facedness

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on May 26, 2015 in Ambigamy
We all want opposite things. Life goes better and gets more interesting when you admit that you do, too.

12 Tips for Greater Psychological Health

Six personal qualities are considered "mature defenses" and can contribute to a happier and healthier life. This blog outlines these traits and some suggestions for how to develop them.

Why I Believe in Bigfoot

By William Irwin Ph.D. on May 15, 2015 in Plato on Pop
No, I don’t believe THAT Bigfoot exists. I just believe it is possible. What’s more, I believe IN Bigfoot. I believe IN Bigfoot the way I would believe IN a friend’s innocence even if I didn’t believe THAT he was innocent. I believe IN Bigfoot precisely because I don’t believe IN much else.

Black Comedians Poke Fun at Racial Stereotypes

Black Comedians Poke Fun at Racial Stereotypes. The comedian’s goal is to get us to laugh with him while laughing at him. By Michelle Stephens, PhD

Want to Increase Trust in Others? Just Smile

By Gil Greengross Ph.D. on April 30, 2015 in Humor Sapiens
Want to Increase Trust in Others? Just Smile

New Film Features a Borderline Woman Who Starts a TV Show

By Randi Kreger on April 29, 2015 in Stop Walking on Eggshells
When Alice wins the Mega-Millions lottery in the new film "Welcome to Me," she quits her psychiatric meds and buys her own talk show hoping to be the next Oprah.

The Real Reason Some Women Put Themselves Down

By Denise Cummins Ph.D. on April 29, 2015 in Good Thinking
Women usually respond to compliments by putting themselves down. Research shows that the reason for this is not low self-esteem or self-hatred. Instead, it is something far more subtle, strategic...and powerful.

Peanut Butter is My Gateway Drug

By Gregg McBride on April 25, 2015 in The Weight-ing Game
Taking the taboo and shame out of a binge can help shed light—and perhaps even some laughter—onto the addictive habits that might be holding us back from finding forgiveness, compassion and (ultimately) success.

Parental Warmth: Simple, Powerful, and Often Challenging

Amidst all the chatter about parenting styles and techniques, it is easy to forget about the importance of warmth. This overlooked dimension is found to be critical to child development in study after study, so why don’t we give it the attention it deserves?

The 4 Styles of Humor

What do you find funny, and what sort of humor appeals to you? Research has focused on different humor styles, and distinguishes four types.