Think of the most hilarious video you’ve ever seen on the internet. Why do you think it’s so funny? Why do you think that a certain image or video causes so many people to laugh? There are so many types of funny in the world and on social media, which can make everyone laugh even a bit.
As a researcher who investigates some of the potential side effects of humor, Alex Borgella, spends a fair bit of time verifying the funniness of the jokes, photos, and videos we present. Quantifying the perception of humor is important in ensuring our findings are valid and reliable. We often rely on pretesting, that is, trying out jokes and other potential stimuli on different samples of people, to give us a sense of whether they might work or not.
To make predictions on how our funny materials will be perceived by study subjects, we also turn to a growing body of humor theories that speculate on why and when certain situations are considered funny. From ancient Greece to today, many thinkers from around the world have yearned to understand what makes us laugh. Whether their reasons for studying humor were strategic or simply inquisitive, their insights have been crucial to the development of humor research today.