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

What Happens When the Class Clown Grows Up

Every school classroom seems to have a class clown—the nightmare of most teachers. However, we know very little about what happens to them when they enter the world of work, home, and community. When they grow up, these “wits” or jokesters can also create havoc to the other adults who inhabit their world.

5 Epic April Fool’s Pranks and the Psychology Behind Them

There are psychological reasons why we fall for April Fool's pranks, and these 5 are among the best.

A Prayer for My Aunt

By Susan Hooper on March 30, 2015 in Detours and Tangents
My mother's younger sister often seemed angry with the world. In her last months, as she battled the physical and mental indignities of old age, I saw a new sweetness of character, along with the iron strength that had sustained her through her life's tribulations.

7 Science-Based Reasons to Laugh Every Chance You Get!

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on March 30, 2015 in Feeling It
Go on, rent that comedy! Laughter has more benefits than you even know!

Relationship Secrets of Happy Couples

We all want loving and successful relationships but we don't all know how to achieve them! Research shows that certain ways of being together can create the glue that holds your relationship intact for the long haul. Read about some things you can do right now to make your relationship happier and healthier.

Do Orcas Go Crazy Because of Petting Pools and False Hopes?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on March 30, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Orcas who lived in petting pools show higher levels of aggression than other killer whales. This essay lays out the details of what is known about aggressive encounters and early experience. It is objectively clear that there is a correlation between “petting pool” history and significant later orca aggression. Now we need to know more about why this is so.

Leaving our Legacies Mindfully

By Thelma Duffey Ph.D. on March 30, 2015 in Works in Progress
We have choice to make when it comes to leaving an impact on others. It is important to live life and invest in those who care about you, while keeping in mind the legacy we want to leave.

Crossing Borders with Humor

I'm amazed to realize that he did those crazy things to connect with people

Cluelessness 101

By Frank T McAndrew Ph.D. on March 29, 2015 in Out of the Ooze
One of the seldom mentioned perks of being a college professor is the opportunity to play a role in the divine comedy of academic life, but we professors are not the stars of the show.

Tweeting As Therapy

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on March 27, 2015 in Ambigamy
A lot of therapy focuses on "what's wrong with you?" but eventually graduates to what's up with us?," an embrace of the human condition in all its details. One way to play with "what's up with us?" is to take notes like a social scientist. Observe, reflect, jot share.

Entrepreneurs: 8 Tips for Telling Your Hero Story

If you are an entrepreneur, a salesperson, a comic, or a speaker, there is a story that you need to know and tell.

15 Kinds of Verbal Abuse

"The ability to feel, like the ability to think, is universal to the nature of humanity. Unfortunately, the abuser is generally unwilling to accept his feelings and unwilling to reveal them to his partner. He builds a wall between himself and his partner He maintains a distance." -- Patricia Evans

Why Laughter Is Contagious

By Rob Kendall on March 26, 2015 in Blamestorming
How does laughter work? Who laughs more when telling a joke - the speaker or the listener? Are there different types of laughter? And do we laugh randomly or not?

Two Synesthetes Walk Into a Bar...

By Maureen Seaberg on March 25, 2015 in Sensorium
What's So Funny About Synesthesia? Plenty!

2 Reasons Why People Don't Get to Know the Real You

Assumptions come in many varieties, but two of the most powerful and pervasive of these are confirmation bias and the primacy effect.

How Being Funny Can Save You Money

Having a sense of humor can save you money. I learned that while working as a comic. I’ve found out that when you make someone laugh, they feel positively toward you and will actually give you discounts. Here's how to do it...

13 Ways to Be Friendship Savvy

How does your Friendship Quotient measure up? Here are 13 key personal traits that strongly influence friendship quality.

Do You Feel Sexy on the Inside?

By Rick Miller LICSW on March 23, 2015 in Unwrapped
Expanding the ways in which we feel “sexy” is good for everyone (yup, except maybe for the beauty industry that sells just one way).

Five Strategies to Tame Your Inner Critic

You can’t get rid of your inner critic. It's just part of the human mind. But you can greatly reduce its fear level, and get it serving, rather than running, you. Here's a 5 Step Process to Tame Your Inner Critic.

A Peculiar Work Situation

By Fredric Neuman M.D. on March 22, 2015 in Fighting Fear
There may be worse problems at work than simply being paid very little and being asked to do the job of two or three people all at once.

The Disadvantages of Having a Mistress

By Fredric Neuman M.D. on March 22, 2015 in Fighting Fear
I think it is important to be conservative in dealing with the matter of mistresses, especially more than one.

Ask Your Doctor if You Are Healthy Enough for Sex

By Fredric Neuman M.D. on March 22, 2015 in Fighting Fear
How to reassure patients when they ask their doctor if they are healthy enough for sex (should the occasion of their asking ever arise.)

How Do You Behave With a Dying Loved One?

By Lucy O'Donnell on March 20, 2015 in Cancer Is a Teacher
Being given a "Do and Don't" list when visiting my dying friend may sound strange but was possibly one of the most helpful things to receive. It not only put my friend at ease, but also me. Visiting dying loved ones is traumatic and devastating, but knowing how to behave with that person makes it an easier experience for all.

Do You Like Your Sister?

Sympathy, compassion, understanding, respect, generosity and a willingness to forgive are essential features of every important relationship, including ones between members of an immediate family.

Science and the Online Dating Profile

Online dating is the new singles bar, one in which your words won't be drowned out by the music. But which words should you use? There is some scientific evidence about relatively more effective ways to turn an online contact into a real huggable moment.

What Do You Really Know About Online Dating?

It’s becoming socially more acceptable to admit to finding a mate online, but there remain many misconceptions about online dating. Find out your online dating IQ with this 8-item quiz that separates myth from reality.

Are You Giving Up on Love?

Our tolerance for love is established early in our lives and is based on our unique experiences. As a result, love doesn’t always just slip away; we push it away…actively. To the degree that we ourselves control the amount of love we will tolerate, we control our romantic destiny. While we may not realize it, in countless, quiet ways, we may be giving up on love.

Jealous Mothers and Their Daughters: The Last Dirty Secret?

By Peg Streep on March 16, 2015 in Tech Support
Maternal envy, perhaps the biggest taboo of all, needs to be addressed and discussed, not just for the sake of daughters but for mothers as well.

Funny Business

By Katherine Preston on March 11, 2015 in Out With It
Does humor create or destroy intimacy?

Oklahoma Fraternity Incident, Just a “Joke?"

By Gordon Hodson Ph.D. on March 10, 2015 in Without Prejudice
Psychologists often study the up-side of humor (well-being, social bonding). But what are the implications of passing off derogatory communications, such as jokes or chants, as harmless and thus not to be judged seriously?