Is it really “funny because it’s true”?


If the “truth” resonates with the listener, yes:

This study tests the folk psychological belief that we find things funny because we think they are true. Specifically, it addresses the relationship between implicit preferences and laughter. Fifty-nine undergraduate Rutgers University students (33 females and 26 males) from ethnically diverse backgrounds were videotaped while watching a white stand-up comedian for 30 min. Positive emotional expression associated with laughter was later scored using the facial action coding system (FACS). Computer-timed Implicit Association Tests (IATs) were used to measure a subject’s implicit preferences for traditional gender roles and racial preferences (blacks vs. whites). Results show that participants laughed more in response to jokes that matched their implicit preferences (e.g., those with stronger implicit preferences for whites laughed more at racially charged material). Implications for the evolution of humor, and laughter as a hard-to-fake signal of preferences, are discussed.

Source: “It’s funny because we think it’s true: laughter is augmented by implicit preferences” from “Evolution and Human Behavior”

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