This research reviews the empirical and theoretical literature on disparagement humor and amusement. In particular, we ask, “Why is disparagement humor funny?” Three theoretical frameworks provide responses to this question: psychoanalytic theory, superiority theories, and social identity theory. Each framework suggests a distinct psychological mechanism that fosters amusement upon exposure to disparagement humor. The review presents the central theoretical propositions from each framework and assesses their empirical support. Based on this review, we suggest that social identity theory offers a promising new avenue for disparagement humor research. The review concludes by offering future research directions.
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