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International Journal of Humor Research

Editor-in-Chief: Ford, Thomas E.

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Volume 21, Issue 3 (Aug 2008)


Disparagement humor: A theoretical and empirical review of psychoanalytic, superiority, and social identity theories

Mark A. Ferguson
  • Corresponding author
  • University of Kansas
/ Thomas E. Ford
  • Western Carolina University
Published Online: 2008-09-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/HUMOR.2008.014


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.

Keywords:: Disparagement humor; social identity theory; superiority

About the article

Correspondence Address:

Published Online: 2008-09-01

Published in Print: 2008-08-01

Citation Information: Humor - International Journal of Humor Research, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/HUMOR.2008.014. Export Citation

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