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Lodz Papers in Pragmatics

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Is the Concept of Incongruity Still a Useful Construct for the Advancement of Humor Research?

Giovannantonio Forabosco
Published Online: 2008-05-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/v10016-008-0003-5

Is the Concept of Incongruity Still a Useful Construct for the Advancement of Humor Research?

The perception of incongruity is considered to be a necessary, though not sufficient, component of the humor experience. Incongruity has been investigated in the philosophical tradition for centuries, and it goes back as far as Aristotle's definition of the comic as based on a particular form of απάτη (surprise and deception). In modern times, many theoretical models, as well as empirical works, are based on this concept. The question is here raised whether the concept of incongruity has already been examined and exploited to its full potential, and nothing new, of theoretical or experimental usefulness, may be drawn from it. It is proposed to conceptualize incongruity as follows: a stimulus is perceived as incongruous when it diverts from the cognitive model of reference. In this perspective, a number of observations are advanced which point to a heuristic property of incongruity still open to interesting developments, both for theory and for applications.

Keywords: Humor; incongruity; incongruity resolution; cognitive model

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About the article


Published Online: 2008-05-15

Published in Print: 2008-01-01


Citation Information: Lodz Papers in Pragmatics, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 45–62, ISSN (Online) 1898-4436, ISSN (Print) 1895-6106, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/v10016-008-0003-5.

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