Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Evolution of Humor, The

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3244-1

Humor can broadly be defined as verbal or non-verbal behavior which is perceived as funny and produces laughter or amusement in others (Martin 2007). Humor is integral to human interaction and is usually pleasurable to engage in (Meyer 2000), yet the explanation for why humans have evolved a sense of humor remains unresolved. Humor is complex, difficult to produce, and highly risky (Polimeni and Reiss 2006). These are qualities that might typically be associated with an adaptive trait that is integral to our survival and therefore justifies its own costly existence. However, there does not seem to be an obvious or immediate survival benefit from humor. Despite this, humor and laughter have been observed around the world suggesting a universality which is typically seen in adaptive traits. Similarly, humor and laughter appear to be innate as babies begin to laugh at the earliest stages of life (Sroufe and Wunsh 1972). Babies of 4 months of age have been observed laughing at tactile...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Regent’s School of Psychotherapy and PsychologyRegent’s University LondonLondonUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Valerie G. Starratt
    • 1
  1. 1.Nova Southeastern UniversityFort LauderdaleUSA