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 Dead Parrot Sketch, Monty Python

Monty Python(Dead Parrot Sketch)

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August 10, 2010 

For centuries philosophers have debated the concept of humor.

A new take on the subject comes from two psychological scientists who believe humor comes from a harmless threat to the way the world ought to be.

According to A. Peter McGraw and Caleb Warren, most older theories of humor all come up short in one way or another.

Freud thought humor came from a release of tension; another theory holds that humor comes from a sense of superiority, and still another from incongruity.

The researchers, however, point out that all of these could happen if you accidentally killed your spouse—but that wouldn’t be funny. They thought that instead, a situation might be funny only if it also seems benign.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers presented various situations to volunteers they rewarded with candy bars.

In one experiment, the volunteers read pairs of situations—for example, one where Jimmy Dean hired a rabbi as spokesman for their new line of pork products, and one where Jimmy Dean hired a farmer as spokesman for their new line of pork products.

The situation with a moral violation—having a rabbi promote pork—was both more likely to be seen as wrong and more likely to make the reader laugh.

The other part of the study tested whether benign appraisals of a moral violation made it funnier.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/08/10/new-theory-on-humor/16619.html



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