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Psychology of Language and Communication

The Journal of University of Warsaw

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Appreciation of Ambiguous Humorous Messages: The Influence of Processing Mode and Presentation

Adam Kucharski
  • Corresponding author
  • Faculty of Psychology of the University of Szczecin, Krakowska 69, 71-017 Szczecin, Poland.
  • Email:
/ Celina Timoszyk-Tomczak
  • University of Szczecin
Published Online: 2015-05-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/plc-2015-0003


In the current study it was assumed that participants of the act of communication do not always follow the rules of cooperation, and sometimes build their utterance in a way that misleads the listener. It depends on the communicative competence of the listener and the message sender if an interaction between them takes place. Th e aim of this research was to assess to what extent deliberate, incorrect identification and the mode of communication in which the text is presented makes the audience lose their orientation in both bona-fide (informative) and non-bona-fide (playful) mode formulations. In order to answer these questions, two experiments were conducted using three types of texts: informative text with a humorous digression, humorous informative text, and a real life parody joke. Th e information preceding the presentation of the texts and the order in which they were shown was manipulated. Respondents assessed how funny each of the texts was. 85 high secondary school students participated in the survey. Th e conducted statistical analyses enabled us to establish that the information appearing at the beginning, i.e. the type of message (informative/humorous), can affect the recipient’s reaction and assessment of how funny a particular text was. Th e research results indicate that poor intensity of comicality in the messages may be aggravated by not indicating that they were intended to induce a humorous effect. This reveals the specific nature of humorous messages, bringing about an effect that is categorically inconsistent with the stimulus that precedes it.

Keywords: humour; bona-fide communication; non-bona fide communication; informative precedence; humour appreciation; humour competence


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-05-29

Published in Print: 2015-05-01

Citation Information: Psychology of Language and Communication, ISSN (Online) 2083-8506, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/plc-2015-0003. Export Citation

© by Adam Kucharski. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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