This Emotional Life

Socially, humor is usually shared with otherswe laugh most often when were with other people, and laughter is just as contagious as yawning. Other people are also the focus of most humor we laugh at the funny things people say and do. Sharing laughs can help us bond with mily and friends. And it can make us more attractive. Studies have shown that men who produce humor are more attractive to womenand men are more attracted to women who laugh at their jokes.

Aggressive humor is contemptuous, hostile, and manipulative. It is used to display a lack of respect and to hurt others. Self-defeating humor is the use of humor to amuse others at ones own expense in a self-disparaging way. This can be a defense mechanism for low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Humor can also be used to mask or avoid something that is wrong and needs attention. Forms of humor such as sarcasm, schadenfreude (delighting in anothers misfortune), hurtful teasing, and attacks based on race, , ethnicity, religion, or other aspects of peoples identity tear apart the social bric and lead to reduced well-being among individuals and communities.

There is very little evidence that laughter itseThis Emotional Lifelf cures disease, and it certainly shouldnt replace medical care. However, there is evidence that laughter promotes social connections and resilience, and that it reduces stress, anxiety, and pain. All of this can promote well-being and recovery.

Is motor inhibition during laughter due to emotional or respiratory influences? Overeem, S., et al. Psychophysiology, 41(2).

Researchers are learning more and more about humors effects on our physical health and overall well-being.

The influence of film-induced mood on pain perception. Weisenberg Humor, M., et al. Pain, 76(3).

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This is not a question that science is able to answer, but it has been hotly debated by funny people for centuries. Samuel Johnson defined puns as the lowest form of humor. But the list of funny people who cant resist them is long: Shakespeare (about 3,000 of them), Queen Elizabeth I, Milton, John Donne, Jonathan Swift, Charles Lamb, James Joyce, Groucho Marx, Ogden Nash, Oscar Wilde,new york asian escort Dorothy Parker, S. J. Perelman, James Thurber, T. S. Eliot, and George Carlin, to name just a few. American humorist Fred Allen weighed in with a verdict: Hanging is too good for a man whoHumor makes puns; he should be drawn and quoted.

The psychology of humor: An integrative approach. Martin, R. A.

Individual differences in uses of humor and their relation to psychological well-being. Martin, R. A., et al. Journal of Research in Personality, 37(1).

Some people just dont have a sense of humor.

Production and appreciation of humor as ually selected traits. Bressler, E. R., et al. Evolution and Human Behavior, 27(2).

Cognitively, to find things funny we need to be able to shift perspective, perceive incongruities and paradoxes, and be surprised and delighted by the unexpectedthe punch line. This causes us to switch into a playful, rather than a serious, frame of mind. When we are amused, we are in a state of observation, which gives us a bit of psychological space or distance from our circumstances.

The pun is the lowest form of humor.

The dark side of humor

Humor modulates the mesolimbic reward centers. Mobbs, D., et al. Neuron, 40.

Laughter is the best medicine; it cures disease.

Humor is a cognitive ability, and there are conditions that can interfere with peoples ability to get jokes. Humor is also extremely dependent on context and culture. It can be hard to get the humor when you are in an unmiliar place or group. Humor also depends on feeling comfortable and safe enough to let down your guard and delight in the absurd. People who seem to not have a sense of humor may simply not be in the right setting to let loose. Most people can cultivate a sense of humor, especially when they are with other people with whom they feel comfortable.

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Humor is beneficial to us when it is what researchers call affiliative or self-enhancing. Affiliative humor is amusing and being amused by others. Self-enhancing humor is maintaining an amused outlook on life; being able to laugh at yourself (self-deprecating humor) and see the humor in your circumstances.

Emotionally, the unique positive emotion associated with humor is called mirth. Mirth can range in intensity from mild amusement to side-splitting hilarity. Like other emotions, mirth produces changes in the biochemistry of our brain and hormone system. Laughter is the nonverbal behavior that communicates to others that we are experiencing the emotion of mirth. The unique sounds of laughter also arouse feelings of mirth in listeners, causing them to begin laughing as well.

Funding for This Emotional Life is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Public Television Viewers. Additional funding provided by the University of Phoenix and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Physiologically, when were experiencing the emotion of mirth, there is an increase in dopamine activity in the pleasure center in the limbic system of the brain. This is the reward center of the brain that is activated by other positive emotions and activities. During times of mirth, the brain also produces endorphins, which raise our pain threshold and can reduce pain we may already be feeling. Mirth also triggers a relaxation response, causing our legs and arms to become weak. Have you ever laughed so hard that you couldnt keep standing and fell to the floor?


In particular, there is a strong connection between amusement, cheerfulness, and resilience. Its easy to strengthen your sense of humor; laughter is contagious.

If you have to explain itit probably isnt funny. Some scientists have taken on the unfunny task of researching and explaining humor and are learning the reasons behind what we already knew: laughing makes us feel better. Humor is a whole mind-body and social experience; its a cognitive ability that gets our emotions and our bodies involved in the act, and it also connects us to other people.



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