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Presentation on theme: "HISTORY OF HUNGARY IN THE 20TH CENTURY IN THE MIRROR OF POLITICAL JOKES JUDIT UJLAKY Erasmus Intensive Programme, Budapest, 8-19 March, 2010."— Presentation transcript:


2 The psychology of humour Definitional problems (action, writing or speech – amusement, joy – production and appreciation) Historical changes Psychological components: – Cognitive: humour comprehension – Emotional: positive emotions – Behavioural: laughter – (pseudo-) Social: togetherness Psychological functions: – Positive feelings (creativity, flexibility) – Communication and manipulation (implicit message, face-saving) – Tension reduction and coping (reframing, agression)

3 Forms of humour Jokes (setup - expectations, punchline – alternation of the meaning), independent of the context, 10% Spontaneaous conversational humour: non- verbal signs, context-dependent, biggest category Unintentional humour: phisical and linguistic forms (logical fallacies, freudian slips)

4 The social psychology of humour Inconsistencies and absurdities of life can only be dealt with a humourous approach Jokes define norms, controll behaviour Status- and hierarchy maintainance Group-identity and cohesion Social representations: concepts and explanations about the everyday life anchored in the communication – Objectification: jokes as figurative cores: abstract into concrete phenomena – Anchoring: new/theatening ideas converted into known categories (stages: data generation, psychological anchoring, sociological anchoring, psychosocial anchoring)

5 Identity and social representations SR define those dimensions alongside which we can make distinctions between groups Commonly shared SRs: sense of toghetherness Constantly re-organised, re-structured group history: (sense of continuity, sense of competence, need for distinctiveness – positive social identity)

6 HUMOUR AS COPING MECHANISM Definitional problems: as one of the coping mechanisms or personality trait (mature, healthy person) Humour as the healthiest, most mature coping mechanism (other means of effective coping are accessible) Sense of humour + use of humour in threatening situations: healhty, mature person (even the statistical data are ambiguous)

7 DIFFERENT CONCEPTS ON HUMOUR AS COPING STRATEGY Cognitive re-srtucturalisation of the situation (transformation of threat into challenge, competitive inhibition of negative thoughts) effect of laughter on the bodily state (cardio- vascular improvement, fostering the production of endorphin)

8 Humour within groups Conversational humour research What about bigger, more abstract groups? Identity construction (basis and tool) Joke teller’s status within the group: popularity, but in some cases also he has to be certain that he is in safety Two-fold nature: jokes about a broader, more abstract group, the actual joke-telling is in a small, virtual group with well-known members

9 Humour and emotions Research: seriousness and number of negative life events - but the broader context is never considered (i.e. historical-political atmosphere of a country): research deals with them as they were different things (as social and personal identity served for characterising two totally different psychological phenomena) not even the threatening situation is unidimensional

10 Political jokes Democratic societies: harmless, they circulate within official channels, citizens’ freedom to tell them – told by politicians!!!! Real political jokes in dictatorships (except military-no spiritual violation and outrage): reactions, responses to acute tension and inhibition, unique point of view into the problems of everyday living, expressions of real, non- official opinions

11 Private or public? public faces vs. private feelings (Benton): a gap between the self and the society not a discrepancy between personal and social identity just between real, self-made identities and arbitrary forced and changed identities not in every society the jokes act as the one and only way of coping (psychological needs meet radical changes)

12 Of which countries PJs should we analyse? SU: serious economic problems vs. military and scientific force smaller socialist countries: less resourceful, less possibility to act against the system (or reprisals) Identity needs are more important than a political system (not all dictatorships are psychologically the same)

13 Summary Although the situation seems homogenuous (i.e. dictatorship), because of other psychological features (above all identity needs) joking and coping with humour have different meanings in different societies within groups, coping mechanisms make different forms from individual ones the role of the jokes is rather sociological than psychological; laugther is important, but in this case, group membership is much more important

14 JOKES 1. - Why is Hungary so small? - It’s a computer file named Gavrilo Future Hungarian border guards are learning chemistry at their academy and they are asked by the lecturer who is testing their intelligence:"Tell me a transparent metal!" Quickly, one of them jumps up and says:"Barbed wire fence!"

15 Jokes 2. Children in communist Hungary are learning about tragic events... Teacher:"Kids, what is tragedy?" Kid 1:"If my doggie died, that were a big tragedy!" Teacher:"Nope, László,that's not right! If your doggie dies, that's a problem, but not a tragedy!" Then she explains... Teacher:"If our great president, comrade Kádár died, that were a tragedy!" Then she asks if they got it right... Kid 2:"Yes! I understand! So, if comrade Kádár died, that were a tragedy, but certainly wouldn't be a problem!"

16 Jokes 3. There is a lesson taken from the 20th century of Hungarian history: radicals emmigrated, conservatives remained in the country and then were hanged. Revolutionaires went both ways. A man enters a restaurant to drink tea in April in 1969. The waiter asks: - What kind of tea would you like? Russian or Chinese? - You know what? Give me a coffee, instead.

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