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

People Will Like You if You Make Them Laugh

Couples who share laughter experience more satisfying long-term relationships.

Why I Don’t Call the Dalai Lama “Your Holiness”

By Paul Ekman Ph.D. on July 28, 2016 in Face It!
To the world, he's referred to as "His Holiness the Dalai Lama".

5 Ways to Respond to a Backhanded Compliment

Do you find yourself at a loss for words when someone offers a backhanded compliment? Try these responses.

Peanut Butter's Revenge

By Gregg McBride on July 20, 2016 in The Weight-ing Game
Hell hath no fury like a "trigger food" does for someone with a dieter's mentality. Especially when that someone is trying to eat, live and think healthy.

The Causes of Misery: Column A and Column B

Why do we become unhappy? There are two sets of factors, and knowing the difference between them can help us know how to cope.

Making Your Inner Monologues More Effective: Use Your Name

If I started emailing myself notes "Dear nervous, hard-working Gina" when stressed, my friends wouldn't think I was getting healthy; they'd think I was going "Fight Club" on them.

The Best Book for Serious (And Humor) Writers

Advises Lerner, "If you are a writer, especially one who has been unable to make your work count or stick, you must grab your demons by the neck and face them down."

Tourist Psychology

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on June 26, 2016 in A Swim in Denial
In the prison of habit the tourist dreams of mind-blowing abandon

Laughing After Divorce

Divorce is common and results in difficult feelings and experiences. A new study explores the role of humor after divorce.

The Book of Rubenstein

By Eliezer Sobel on June 13, 2016 in The 99th Monkey
The “Church of Rubenstein,” often ridiculed in the media as a superstitious and dangerous cult, has at long last revealed the true story behind its creation myth.

Welcome to Misery!

For much of the past 20 years, psychology has been obsessed with the quest for happiness. Maybe it's time we looked in the other direction.

Using Humor to Dissolve Parent-Child Conflicts

By Andrea Fox on June 08, 2016 in Imperfect Mothers
There's nothing funny about a child's melt-down. But infuse a little humor and the conflict just might melt away.
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6 Slippery Truths About Summer

4. Playing with an outdoorsy accessory called a “fire pit” in your backyard does not make you One With the Elements or even one of the Mother of Dragons from “Game of Thrones.”

The Psychology of Stand-Up Comedy

Academics have not only studied stand-up comedy. Occasionally they have performed it too.

Experience-Based How-To's for Creativity

Getting creative – There’s nothing like drawing on experience!

A Parable About Chinese Trade Protections

By Chris Kutarna Ph.D. on May 26, 2016 in Age of Discovery
Good stories often offer stronger insight than quick advice.

Is Joy Communal?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on May 18, 2016 in The Human Beast
The epidemic of depression that emerged with urbanization in the US is often attributed to loneliness in large cities. Perhaps it is also due to less opportunities to express joy.
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What Can We Do to Decrease Our Risk for Cancer?

The idea that cancer is fate and we are simple victims, is at best a half-truth.

The Most Embarrassing Moments When You're Big

By Temma Ehrenfeld on May 06, 2016 in Open Gently
Laughing at the embarrassing moments of obesity can help.

When Food is Love

For my mother, cooking was never a service; it was the deepest, purest act of love.

3 Unexpected Things Women Find Attractive in Men

By Vinita Mehta Ph.D., Ed.M. on April 25, 2016 in Head Games
For women, attraction is hardly about good looks and money.

"I Can't Give You a Brain, But I Can Give You a Diploma"

Some projects — like acquiring a genuine education — are not best if you DIY. Sometimes you need a professional. Sometimes you need a professor.

Can Psychology Explain Humor?

By Art Markman Ph.D. on April 12, 2016 in Ulterior Motives
Humor is a pervasive part of human experience. If you watch people in social groups, they spend a lot of time laughing. But, what makes particular events funny?

How to Win a Turing Tournament

Both a computer's mentalistic deficits and mechanistic over-compensations could be masked in a Turing test by having it masquerade as a savant like the late Kim Peek.

Why We Laugh at Others on April Fool's Day

By Paul Dolan Ph.D. on April 01, 2016 in Happiness by Design
Why does laughing at the expense of others bring us so much pleasure and what does it say about our human nature? Here are some key explanations.

Aiming to Please (the Janitor): a Field Experiment

By Alain Samson Ph.D. on April 01, 2016 in Consumed
New insights on scoring in the men's room

Why Do Funnier Comedians Die Sooner?

Those identified as funnier were more than three times more likely to die prematurely when compared to more serious comedy personalities.

Republican and Democrats on the Same Page

By Fredric Neuman M.D. on March 29, 2016 in Fighting Fear
It shows you that if you try hard enough, you can Democrats and Republicans to agree on something: guns at the Republican convention.

We Thought You’d Never Ask: Autism and Self-Advocacy

Assumptions of mental retardation limit opportunities for autistic people to express their intelligence.