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HUMOR

International Journal of Humor Research

Editor-in-Chief: Ford, Thomas E.

4 Issues per year


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1613-3722
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Volume 26, Issue 3 (Jul 2013)

Issues

From Ice Age to Madagascar: Appreciation of slapstick humor in children with Asperger's syndrome

Elisabeth M. Weiss
  • Department of Psychology, Biological Psychology Unit, Karl-Franzens University of Graz, Austria
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Bianca C. Gschaidbauer / Andrea C. Samson / Krista Steinbäcker / Andreas Fink
  • Department of Psychology, Biological Psychology Unit, Karl-Franzens University of Graz, Austria
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Ilona Papousek
  • Corresponding author
  • Karl-Franzens University of Graz, Department of Psychology, Biological Psychology Unit, Univ.-Platz 2, A-8010 Graz, Austria
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2013-07-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2013-0029

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to examine whether children with Asperger's syndrome differ from typically developing children in the appreciation of and behavioral responses to simple slapstick type humor, in which cognitive requirements that are commonly impaired in autism spectrum disorders are reduced to a minimum. Short slapstick scenes and matched non-humorous control scenes were extracted from popular movies to produce an appropriate humor assessment material. Twenty-four boys with Asperger's syndrome (5 to 14 years) and 24 age-matched typically developed controls were tested. The results indicated that children with Asperger's syndrome enjoy humorous material as much as healthy children do, if the humor elements are simple and the incongruence can be perceived independently from theory of mind requirements, inferential demands, or language abilities. However, similar funniness ratings and behavioral expressions of mirth to the humorous scenes, but relatively higher values in response to the non-humorous scenes, suggested that the autistic children did not discriminate non-humorous from humorous stimuli as sensitively as the typically developing children did. Moreover, in autistic children, the outwards displays of emotion did not match their reports of subjective amusement. This dissociation may relate to the social interaction and communication difficulties in autism spectrum disorders.

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder; Slapstick; Humor appreciation; Emotional coherence

About the article

Elisabeth M. Weiss

Elisabeth M. Weiss is a licensed psychiatrist and psychologist. She is the head of the Biological Psychology Department at the Karl-Franzens University of Graz, Austria. Her research interests include cognition in psychiatric and neurological disorders, neuroimaging and neurogenetics.

Bianca C. Gschaidbauer

Bianca Gschaidbauer completed her MSc in Psychology at the Karl-Franzens-University of Graz, Austria. Her Master's thesis dealt with executive functions in autism. Currently she is working with autistic people at the Verein Libelle (Autism Center Styria).

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.

Krista Steinbäcker

Krista Steinbäcker is a licensed psychologist working with autistic people at the Verein Libelle (Autism Center Styria). She completed her MSc in Psychology (Karl-Franzens-University of Graz, Austria) on the link between brain development and autism.

Andreas Fink

Andreas Fink is a professor at the Department of Psychology, Biological Psychology Unit, Karl-Franzens University of Graz, Austria. His research is concerned with cognitive and neuronal mechanisms underlying different facets of personality and cognition, with a special focus on creativity.

Ilona Papousek

Ilona Papousek is a professor at the Biological Psychology Unit of the Department of Psychology, Karl-Franzens University of Graz, Austria. Her main research interests are in the field of affective neuroscience. Her specialisms include humor related issues and affective flexibility.


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-2013-0029.

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

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