There may be no better day all year to express humour than April Fool’s Day, but what makes something funny?
People of all ages and cultures experience humour every day. It affects how we select our friends and mates. It attracts attention and admiration, softens criticism, alleviates conflict and helps people cope with anxiety and physical pain.
Professors Peter McGraw and Caleb Warren presented a study last August in the journal Psychological Science that shows what it takes to make something funny.
Humour only occurs when three conditions are satisfied.
“The situation is a violation, the situation is benign and both of those appraisals occur simultaneously,” said McGraw in an Internet video. “In addition to predicting what is funny, it also predicts what is not funny.”
A violation threatens the way you think the world should be. It includes everything from tickling to puns and physical threats to violations of personal dignity.
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