Talking to Humor Therapists

I am headed to Chicago today. The city is hosting The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor’s annual conference. Seriously.

On Friday, I am presenting a session. Check it out:

What Makes Things Funny?: Connecting Humor’s Antecedents to its Consequences.

For millenia, philosophers, scientists, and entertainers have puzzled over the question of what makes things funny. Although great progress has been made answering the question, one of the surprising aspects of prevailing humor theories is that they are not well-connected to the well-developed literature that features humor’s diverse consequences – especially how humor can just as easily hurt as it does help. I will review prominent theories of humor and discuss the challenges they have explaining the many therapeutic, social, and interpersonal consequences of humor. Finally, I will present new psychological research that suggests that a parsimonious account of humor can explain what makes things funny (and not funny), while also explaining humor’s costs and benefits outside the laboratory.


And yes, I will be presenting the benign violation theory.