The humors were, in ancient physiology, the four fluids of the body (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile). As the proportions of these fluids was thought to determine our temperament, the term humor came to be associated with mood – one could be in good humor, meaning one’s fluids were in balance.

From: Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2011. Hurley, M.; Dennet, D.; Adams, R.)

  • There have been several studies conducted in relation to humor, psychology and sociology (Bonaiuto, 2006; Ziv, 2010), the neurobiological effects of humor in the reward centers, (Mobbs, Greicius, Abdel-Azim, Menon & Reiss, 2003), humor comprehension and neurology (Campbell, Wallace, Modirrousta, Polimeni, Mckeen, & Reiss, 2015), humor studies with individuals and groups with mental illness (Buxman, 1991; Gelkopf, Gonen, Kurs, Melamed, & Bleich, 2006; Taber, Redden, & Hurley, 2007), humor and creativity (Ma, 2014; Ziv, 2010), and many more.
  • Humor relies upon the interdependent nature of relationships, the attuning dialog, which in turn correlates to “getting” a joke, for “humour comprehension requires the recognition of intended playfulness — a form of affective processing” (Campbell et al., 2015).
  • Among its many theories, humor harbors what is known as the incongruity theory that is defined as “something that violates our mental patterns and expectations” (Morreall, 2016), when what is expected is not what is delivered, thus “our own disappointed expectation makes us laugh” (Morreall, 2016). Through jokes and funny situations, a shift in perception takes place, resulting in a recognition of the humor through laughter or a groan (Morreall, 2016; Roeckelein, 2006). Tierno (2012) states that the goal of comedy is to make an audience “laugh and understand truth [and] if done correctly, this can be deeper and more powerful than any dramatic story.

    From Expressive Arts Therapy – Alison M. Landoni


There are several different theories of humor including Biological Theories, Play Theories, Superiority Theories, Release Theories, Incongruity and Incongruity-Resolution Theories, Surprise Theories and Bergson’s Mechanical Humor Theory.

Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind (Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2011. Hurley, M.; Dennet, D.; Adams, R.)

  • Sharpening your funny focus by developing humor habits follows Hebbian theory that “neurons that fire together, wire together.” In fact, the findings of one study suggest that the more experience people have using humor, the more they will shift from relying on prefrontal cortex executive functioning to guide searches for humorous associations to relying on the temporal lobe, which facilitates spontaneous and remote or abstract associations. 
  • Training your brain to have more of a funny focus is about being intentional and not simply hoping for but harnessing humor. It’s okay if you aren’t naturally funny. Humor is not a talent. Humor is a habit.


From How to Use Humor in Clinical Settings — Paul Osincup

The heyókȟa is a contrarian, jester, and satirist, who speaks, moves and reacts in an opposite fashion to the people around them…The heyókȟa functions both as a mirror and teacher at the same time, using extreme behaviors to mirror others…forcing them to examine their own doubts, fears, hatreds, and weaknesses. They provoke laughter…to keep (people) from taking themselves too seriously or believing they are more powerful than they are. Wikipedia

  • Art can be a relevant platform to evoke, express and study humour as a significant human phenomenon. It provides additional secure and effective ways to generate and express.
  • It is natural that humorous artistic images created by art therapy clients are given an important and often central position as clients strive to achieve therapeutic goals. Being a social phenomenon developed in the interpersonal matrix, humour is often evident in the course of group interactive art therapy…” (International Journal of Art Therapy: Vol. 20, No. 2, pp.40-53)

    From Therapeutic functions of humour in group art therapy with war veterans
    – Alexander Kopytin & Alexey Lebedev