FYI, Norm

J Gen Psychol. 2010 Oct-Dec;137(4):376-94.

The effect of humor on memory: constrained by the pun.

Summerfelt H, Lippman L, Hyman IE Jr.

Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225, USA.


In a series of experiments, we investigated the effect of pun humor on memory. In all experiments, the participants were exposed to knock-knock jokes in either the original form retaining the pun or in a modified form that removed the pun. In Experiment 1, the authors found that pun humor improved both recall and recognition memory following incidental encoding. In Experiment 2, they found evidence that rehearsal is not the cause of the humor effect on memory. In Experiments 3 and 4, the authors found that the constraints imposed by puns and incongruity may account for the humor effects observed. Puns constrain and limit the information that can fit in the final line of a joke and thus make recall easier.

PMID: 21086859 [PubMed - in process]