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International Journal of Humor Research

Editor-in-Chief: Ford, Thomas E.

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Volume 26, Issue 3 (Jul 2013)


Seven decades after Hans Asperger's observations: A comprehensive study of humor in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Andrea C. Samson
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Psychology, Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall, Bldg 420, Stanford, CA, 94305
  • Email:
/ Oswald Huber
  • Department of Psychology, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Email:
/ Willibald Ruch
  • Department of Psychology, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • Email:
Published Online: 2013-07-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2013-0026


The aim of the present study was to better understand humor in individuals with Asperger's syndrome. Therefore, various humor and laughter related phenomena were investigated by means of various standardized humor instruments. Forty individuals with AS and 113 controls filled out several self-report questionnaires and tests. The results revealed that individuals with AS scored significantly lower on trait cheerfulness and higher on trait seriousness (both describing the susceptibility to humor). Furthermore, they scored low on scales related to social communication (affiliative humor, humor entertainment) and portrayed a more socially cold humor style. In addition, individuals with AS scored low on mean-spirited humor, and used less adaptive (self-enhancing) and more maladaptive humor styles (self-defeating humor). Finally, they preferred incongruity-resolution humor, representing a more reality-oriented processing style. These findings add to previous studies on humor and expand the knowledge of components associated with successful humor appreciation.

Keywords: Asperger's syndrome; autism; humor; sense of humor; self-assessment; cheerfulness; emotion

About the article

Andrea C. Samson

Andrea Samson completed her PhD in Psychology (University of Fribourg, Switzerland) on cognitive humor processing, Theory of Mind and its neuronal correlates. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Psychology, Stanford University. Her research interests focus on neural correlates of humor, emotion regulation, Autism, and mixed emotions.

Oswald Huber

Oswald Huber is Emeritus Professor of General Psychology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. His scientific interests include risky decision-making. He is also a successfully published cartoonist.

Willibald Ruch

Willibald Ruch completed his PhD in Psychology (University of Graz, Austria) on a three-mode model of humor appreciation and personality. He is currently a full Professor of Personality and Assessment in the Department of Psychology, Zurich University. His research interests are in the fields of humor, laughter, emotions, facial expression and positive psychology.

Published Online: 2013-07-13

Published in Print: 2013-07-12

Citation Information: Humor, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2013-0026.

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©[2013] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston. Copyright Clearance Center

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