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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton October 11, 2005

Humor appreciation and latency of comprehension

  • William A. Cunningham and Peter Derks
From the journal HUMOR


The relation between humor appreciation and comprehension difficulty has been described as an inverted U function. That is, when a joke is too easy or too hard to understand it will be less funny than a joke of intermediate difficulty. Humor appreciation might, however, be a kind of expert skill. Then the easier it is to get a joke for the experienced language user the funnier the joke will be. Two experiments found the relation between the latency of recognizing a message as a joke and the funniness of that joke to be primarily negative and linear. There was no evidence of an inverted U with this material. Funnier material was reacted to more quickly than less funny material providing some evidence for the expert skill hypothesis. Some jokes congruent with male gender stereotypes, however, resulted in higher humor ratings by females but did not affect recognition latency. This finding suggests the possibility of an implicit structural and a more explicit content factor in humor appreciation.

Published Online: 2005-10-11
Published in Print: 2005-10-18

Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG

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