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Zafeiris Dimitra

S1, group 3
Year III, s2

Humor and Creativity

K OQuin, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY, USA
P Derks, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, USA
-Understanding humor (humor appreciation)
-Creating humor (humor production)
-Humor as a personality trait (sense of humor)
The difference between appreciating humor and producing humor is partly artificial. A person
cannot intentionally produce humor unless he or she is capable of appreciating humor. However, the
opposite is not necessarily true; there are people who claim that they do not or
cannot produce humor, even though they are quite capable of appreciating the humor of others.
Both experts and laypersons agree that one of the delineating characteristics of creativity is
originality or novelty. Similarly, originality (or its close cousin surprisingness) is also
frequently suggested to be characteristic of humor. Funniness is often found to be related to
surprise. However, simple originality is not enough for the definition of creativity, and surprise is
typically not enough for humor once a person is past the peek-a-boo stage. At least one more
dimension is needed. In the creativity field, that second dimension has been given many names
(appropriate, useful, etc).The name for this dimension which best links humor and creativity is
resolution the notion that to be creative, an idea, act, or product needs to be appropriate, relevant,
or to fit the requirements of the situation.
Rod Martin illustrated the concept of incongruity resolution with this joke:
Is the doctor at home? the patient asked in his bronchial whisper.
No, the doctors young and pretty wife whispered in reply. Come
right in
In linking humor and creativity, Koestler coined the term bisociation to describe the mixing
of ideas involved when a person abruptly perceives as similar, two habitually-incompatible
contexts. Understanding a joke requires the given data to be transformed or reinterpreted.. A simple
example is a pun, where two different meanings of a word or phrase are brought together
simultaneously (e.g., a fake book entitled Proper Use of Sunscreen by Justin Casey Burns)
Ideational fluency has been said by many authors to be an important component of creativity.
Humor comprehension and creativity should be similar because both require the ability to link
disparities. Humor often depends upon unusual associations, so a persons ability to generate and
understand humor would seem to depend, at least partly, upon ideational fluency (the ability to
produce many ideas to fulfill certain requirements, such as thinking of possible uses for a brick, or
for a paperclip)
Emotional Similarities
In both the creativity and humor fields, emotional themes ofdelight, surprise, and enjoyment are
found . Frank Wicker stated that enjoyment of humor is in part an aesthetic enjoyment of a creative
product.Several clasic theories, including Freud's, emphasized the relaxing and emotion-relieving

Zafeiris Dimitra
S1, group 3
Year III, s2
characteristics of humor.Unfortunately, these theories are typically not consistent in whether they
refer to the humor producer, the humor appreciator, or both. But in any case, relaxation, emotional
release or liberation from the bounds of rational thinking are consistent themes in classic humor
Sense of humor and creative personality
The topic of personality characteristics leads us to another dimension in which humor and creativity
are seen to demonstrate similarities.The creative person, including characteristics of the creative
personality, has been more widely studied in the entire field than any of the other Four Ps of
creativity (the others are process, product, and press or environment). Some examples of the many
traits sayd to be tipical of the creative person are originality,openness to experience, tolerance for
ambiguity, self-confidence, unconventionality, and independence.Not surprisingly, many of the
same characteristics are often linked to a person with a good sense of humor.
Relationship to Play
Playful behaviors have been linked to both creativity and humor. Play, although not synonymous
with humor by any means, is related to humor through its association with light-hearted
behavior, laughter, etc. In 2007, Martin noted that social play is an important way in which humor
can be enjoyed entirely for its own sake. Indeed, he stated that the very definition of humor
is based upon the distinction between playful and serious.
Humor as a Correlate of Creativity
Many researchers have recognized the multifaceted nature of both humor and creativity (or vice
versa) have employed a large variety of tests of both constructs. Humor has been measured by such
things as appreciation tests (usually rating cartoons or jokes for funniness), writing cartoon captions
which are judged for funniness, teacher ratings of sense of humor or humorous attitude, writing
humorous definitions, completing jokes, peer nominations of individuals as funny, humor
knowledge,humor reasoning ability, observer ratings of laughs/smiles/behavioral attempts at humor,
judges ratings of how clever or humorous a product was, and many different tests of the sense of