Memory for humorous cartoons

Abstract

Incidental memory for three types of cartoons was compared: original cartoons, literal translations of the originals, andweird cartoons created by inserting incongruous material into the literal translations. In Experiment 1, the three types of cartoons were mixed together in lists. In Experiment 2, each list contained only two cartoon types. In both experiments, original cartoons were remembered better than the literal and the weird cartoons, whereas the literal and the weird cartoons were equally well remembered. The detection of incongruities, or attempts to resolve those incongruities, cannot adequately explain the observed humor effects. The results were also inconsistent with both rehearsal and distinctiveness interpretations. Rather, humor per se appears to support good memory performance. Perhaps participants elaborated or gave sustained attention to humorous material at the expense of less humorous material.

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Correspondence to Stephen R. Schmidt.

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Schmidt, S.R., Williams, A.R. Memory for humorous cartoons. Memory & Cognition 29, 305–311 (2001). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03194924

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Keywords

  • Humorous Material
  • Word Recall
  • List Structure
  • Sentence Recall
  • Bizarreness Effect