Investigations employing physiological markers to assess affective responses to humor have largely ignored concomitant cognitive processes. To clarify some of these relationships, pupil diameter, the skin conductance response, and heart rate were recorded while 24 male andfemale subjects responded to a series ofnonsexist, male sexist, andfemale sexist jokes. Pupil change, heart rate, and skin conductance were measured both before and after auditory presentation ofhumorous Statements. Additionally, subjects rated the Statements on two dimensions: humorousness and offensiveness. Results provide support for the attenuation of heart rate and skin conductance measures of arousal during decoding of sexist humor. That subjects first interpreted the jokes cognitively was evidenced by pupillary dilation during Statement presentation, with decreasedpupil diameter occurring afterwards. Even though subjects clearly differentiated the Statements by humorousness and offensiveness, no relationships werefound among these subjective measures and the physiological data. This indicates that at least two temporally distinct psychological periods occurred while responding to sexist humor. The results ofthepresent investigation underscore the usefulness ofcombining cognitive and physiological measures to understand the time course of humor decoding and appreciation. Sigmund Freud clearly recognized the fact that individuals find sexual content in humor amusing and with a purpose; that is, it compels
HUMOR – de Gruyter
Published: Jan 1, 1993
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