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

Peekaboo: Joy Might Just Surprise You

Remembering to laugh is essential. It can’t make the darkness go away, but it does admit the light.
Getty Images

Don Rickles: Can Humor Go Too Far?

By Jane Greer Ph.D. on April 21, 2017 in Shrink Wrap
Can't you take a joke?

Don Rickles, the Master Roaster, Dies at 90

By Izzy Kalman on April 16, 2017 in Resilience to Bullying
Don Rickles, one of the greatest roasters of all time, died last week. In today's culture, he could easily be considered a bully, but in reality he promotes the antidote.

Toward a Quantum Model of Humor

By Liane Gabora Ph.D. on April 06, 2017 in Mindbloggling
The bisociation of incongruous frames or word meanings in jokes is modelled as a linear superposition of basis states, or possible interpretations, in a complex Hilbert space.

Workplace Humor Has Some Unexpected Benefits

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on March 30, 2017 in ExperiMentations
The proper use of humor increases status, confidence and competence in the eyes of others. When humor backfires, the damage can be irreparable. New research shows us how.

11 Ways to Sound Like a Better Lover

By Donna Barstow on March 29, 2017 in Ink Blots Cartoons
A great way to say goodbye that guarantees more hellos.

How to Read His Mind

By Donna Barstow on March 29, 2017 in Ink Blots Cartoons
What is he really trying to tell you?

Rediscovering a Zest for Life

By John Sean Doyle on March 27, 2017 in Luminous Things
When we seek the strange or exotic that is just outside our door, we can rediscover who we really are and begin to live our lives more passionately.

Cracking a Joke At Work Can Have a Surprising Payoff

By Art Markman Ph.D. on March 14, 2017 in Ulterior Motives
Humor is common in the workplace. Does it make help people to achieve their goals at work?

The Lost Origin of Coulrophobia, the Abnormal Fear of Clowns

How serious an issue is an abnormal fear of clowns? Where did the term coulrophobia even come from? The answer may be lost to time, locked away behind a wall built by brain trauma.

Funny Philosophers

By Scott G. Eberle Ph.D. on February 23, 2017 in Play in Mind
Can philosophers afford to be funny when asking the ultimate questions about life, the universe, and everything?

National Single Awareness Day Comes but Once a Year

By Frances Kuffel on February 14, 2017 in What Fat Women Want
Maybe it should be called National Single Undying-Gratitude Day.

Are You Always Busier Than Everyone Else? Do You Want to Be?

Instead of enjoying our time, we learned to manage it. We pass the day checking off tasks from lists as is if having to prove to Life's Parking Attendant we were here legally.

Having Fun Being Funny

By Bernard L. De Koven on February 07, 2017 in On Having Fun
In some games, victory comes not from being best, but from having the most fun. Together.

Happiness Needs an Invitation, Misery Barges In

Joy and pleasure are, instead, excellent guests and, as such, they wait for an invitation. You have to open the door to life’s best moments; you have to invite them in.
"My_Boss_Is_A_J-E-R-K!" by Nyttend/Public Domain

The Mensch, the Goofball, the Jerk, and the Asshole

By Christopher A. Robert Ph.D. on January 16, 2017 in Humor at Work
Humor skill is important, but perhaps even more important are the underlying reasons why people use humor.

A Playful Protest

By Bernard L. De Koven on January 16, 2017 in On Having Fun
These are the times when even a simple thing like playing together in public can have a revolutionary impact.

Pessimism of the Intelligence, Optimism of the Will

Can we combine pessimism of intelligence and optimism of will in confronting the devastation to environmental policy and regulation that many fear from the incoming administration?

Carrie Fisher: Turning Problems into Punchlines

By Judy Carter on January 06, 2017 in Stress Is a Laughing Matter
Carrie Fisher was able to turn mental illness into a career. In so doing, she helped so many “come out” about their own secrets. Can laughter really help heal mental illness?

Seeing The Funny Side to Everything

By Bernard L. De Koven on January 02, 2017 in On Having Fun
No matter what truths you seek, you'll some of the deepest and most useful truths if you can just see the funny side.

4 Emotions for Surviving & Thriving in an Uncertain America

Americans are facing unprecedented times, and many are experiencing emotional upheaval. What advice does emotion science hold for the months ahead?
James Coplan, MD

Perfectionism, Part 2

Do you have gremlins below decks, countermanding the captain's orders?
“Chimpanzee_selfie” by Frontierofficial/CC by 2.0

The Evolution of Humor: From Grunts to Poop Jokes

By Christopher A. Robert Ph.D. on November 23, 2016 in Humor at Work
The human capacity for humor distinguishes our species from others. Humor is the result of millions of years of evolution.

A Laughing Matter

By Holly Parker, Ph.D. on November 19, 2016 in Your Future Self
Comedians deserve deep, heartfelt gratitude. They’re not just funny. We actually need them.
lawprier/Flickr, CC by 2.0

The Healing Power of Laughter in Death and Grief

If humor is a part of living, than why should it not be a part of dying?

Illustrating Mental Health With Cartoons

By Robert T Muller Ph.D. on November 02, 2016 in Talking About Trauma
Cartoons allow audiences to grasp intricate aspects of psychological disorders.

Happy Childhood, Happy Marriage

By Temma Ehrenfeld on October 27, 2016 in Open Gently
Happy childhoods are a big advantage, but we all can learn the skills that preserve relationships and health.

3 Fascinating Discoveries About Laughter

By Todd B. Kashdan Ph.D. on October 24, 2016 in Curious?
Let us travel where scientists seldom tread—everyday, lowly human behaviors. Laughter. What myths do you hold? What truths are you ready to discover?
K.Ramsland

Ghost Righter

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on October 19, 2016 in Shadow Boxing
A bit of Halloween fun, let's consider therapy in the afterlife for those who made poor choices while alive.