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


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.
VIA Institute/Depositphotos

5 New Humor Exercises to Boost Your Happiness!

By Ryan M. Niemiec Psy.D. on October 14, 2016 in What Matters Most?
Want to learn about 5 new ways to boost your well-being and your strength of humor?

Does Calling It a Joke Make Sexism More Acceptable?

The door to locker room banter was opened up in last week’s revelations in the now infamous Access Hollywood video. New research shows just how humor can be used to cover sexism.

Finding Happiness in a Burger Joint

Can team bonding lead to better business?

Television With Tots: Guilt Free Co-Viewing Recommendations

By Jamie Krenn Ph.D. on September 29, 2016 in Screen Time
Have concerns about your young child's screen time? These few recommendation may help.

Wedding Vows for Modern Times

Today's marital vows seem to be much more about personal fulfillment than about making a life and a home together.

7 Reasons Every New Parent Should Read Welcome to the Club

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on September 20, 2016 in The Squeaky Wheel
Raquel D'Apice's new baby milestone book 'Welcome to the club' will not only entertain new parents it will be therapeutic for them. Here’s why:

Is It Too Late to Say Balti?

By Vyv Evans Ph.D. on September 20, 2016 in Language in the Mind
What is the nature of punning? Musical puns in TV adverts provide an unexpected venue to explore the linguistics of humor.

18 Classic Psychology Jokes

Did you hear the one about the nearsighted psychologist?

Were the 1970s Better or Worse Than the 60s?

Ah, the 1970s, when we used our own heads as one giant roller. When Jade East, English Leather, Herbal Essence, Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Pursettes filled our backpacks.

Chicken Phobias and Other Matters of Concern

By Fredric Neuman M.D. on September 11, 2016 in Fighting Fear
A contrast between agoraphobia and more specific phobias. A presentation of a question that stumped me during a radio broadcast.

Seductive Details in Teaching

By Rolf Reber Ph.D. on September 05, 2016 in Critical Feeling
Making a lesson fun looks like a good idea but may impair learning.

Is the “All Lives Matter” Slogan Racist?

By Gordon Hodson Ph.D. on August 25, 2016 in Without Prejudice
In the lead up to the 2016 US election, racial tensions are running high. Many Blacks are offended by White retorts that “All Lives Matter.” Racism may underpin this slogan.

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 Handle 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

By Randy Paterson Ph.D. on July 17, 2016 in How to be Miserable
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!

By Randy Paterson Ph.D. on June 10, 2016 in How to be Miserable
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.

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

By Brian Hughes Ph.D. on June 05, 2016 in Homeostasis Disruptor
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.