International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 21 Num. 3 - October 2021


Is this a Joke? Altering the Derivation of Humor Behavior

Volume 21 Num. 3 - October 2021 - Pages 413-431


Matheus Bebber , Carmen Luciano , Jorge Ruiz Sánchez , Francisco Cabello


Despite the vast number of studies analyzing humor and its relation to other psychological variables, there is no consensus regarding under which conditions humor emerges. The current study aims to explore in this direction using three experimental protocols designed to alter the context of several jokes: the Reality protocol, to respond as if being in the situation described in the joke; the Identification protocol, to take the perspective of the characters in the jokes; and the Discomfort protocol, to respond to aversive functions given to these characters. Twenty-three participants were assigned to one of two conditions: in the Experimental condition, the first three jokes were preceded by one of the experimental protocols, whereas in the Control condition, the same jokes were presented without any contextual manipulation. Then, all participants were re-exposed to the jokes with no manipulation in a second phase. Facial responses and self-reports were used as measures of humor. Results show that the experimental protocols altered the emergence of humor in a replicable manner (mainly with the Reality and the Discomfort protocols) by reducing the humor responses and affecting their agreement. However, a decrease in humor responses as well as variability in the agreement between measures was observed in both conditions when re-exposed to the same jokes. These findings are discussed according to the contextual components defining each experimental protocol and highlight the functions that might be derived according to the interaction between the jokes and the participants’ histories of relating events

How to cite this paper:
Bebber M, Luciano C, Ruiz-Sánchez J, & Cabello F (2021). Is this a Joke? The Impact of Context in the Emergence of Humor. International Journal of Psychology & Psychological Therapy, 21, 3, 413-431.

Key words:

functional analysis of jokes, humor derivation, incongruity, participant’s functional history of relating, relational responding, smiling response

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