More on humor, courtesy of Machines Like Us:
Caleb Warren and A. Peter McGraw, two psychological scientists from the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado-Boulder, argue that violations of norms are laughable, but only if benign. If I actually shot the sheriff, it would not matter whether or not I killed the deputy. If I really did it, it’s really serious. McGraw explains:
“We laugh when Moe hits Larry because we know that Larry’s not really being hurt. It’s a violation of social norms. You don’t hit people, especially a friend. But it’s okay because it’s not real.”
Here’s a link to a PDF of the paper, published in Psychological Science. Disclaimer: It is not a knee-slapper. In fact, the only thing we surely don’t need science to tell us is that the easiest way to ruin a joke is to explain it to death.