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Authors: Tschacher, Wolfgang
Haken, Hermann
Title: A complexity science account of humor
Issue Date: 2023 Zeitschriftenartikel 14 Entropy 25 (2023), No. 341
ISSN: 1099-4300
Abstract: A common assumption of psychological theories of humor is that experienced funniness results from an incongruity between stimuli provided by a verbal joke or visual pun, followed by a sudden, surprising resolution of incongruity. In the perspective of complexity science, this characteristic incongruity-resolution sequence is modeled by a phase transition, where an initial attractor-like script, suggested by the initial joke information, is suddenly destructed, and in the course of resolution replaced by a less probable novel script. The transition from the initial to the enforced final script was modeled as a succession of two attractors with different minimum potentials, during which free energy becomes available to the joke recipient. Hypotheses derived from the model were tested in an empirical study where participants rated the funniness of visual puns. It was found, consistent with the model, that the extent of incongruity and the abruptness of resolution were associated with reported funniness, and with social factors, such as disparagement (Schadenfreude) added to humor responses. The model suggests explanations as to why bistable puns and phase transitions in conventional problem solving, albeit also based on phase transitions, are generally less funny. We proposed that findings from the model can be transferred to decision processes and mental change dynamics in psychotherapy.
Appears in Collections:08 Fakultät Mathematik und Physik

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