How do you measure something as complex and personal as humour? University of Alberta researchers have developed the first mathematical method of doing just that—and it might not be quite as personal as we think, says U of A psychology professor Chris Westbury.
“We think that humour is personal, but evolutionary psychologists have talked about humour as being a message-sending device.
Humour is not one thing. Once you start thinking about it in terms of probability, then you start to understand how we find so many different things funny.
The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer suggested nearly 200 years ago that things were funny when they violated our pre-existing expectations, and, more importantly, that they were funny to the extent that they violated our expectations.
Our experiments still don’t explain why people find weird things funny. We think that humour has many different functions. One of them is probably to allow ourselves to control our emotions and make ourselves happy, because humans function better when they are happy.”
– Chris Westbury
Find out more at The University of Alberta https://uofa.ualberta.ca/science/science-news/2015/november/the-snunkoople-effect
or Here on the Academic Minute: http://academicminute.org/2016/10/chris-westbury-university-of-alberta-mathematical-theory-of-humor/
Anthony McCarten outlines the importance of humor and laughter in today’s world for health and thinking at a talk in Germany.