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Cartoon Humor: Do Demographic Variables and Political Correctness Influence Perceived Funniness?

Michael J. Lowis


Published: 2003/03/01


The supposed health benefit of humor has a long history, but there are those who question the validity of such claims. With Superiority Theory and Disposition Theories in mind, this study investigated age, gender and region-of-origin differences in the appreciation of cartoon humor embracing specific categories. Funniness ratings of 36 cartoons were made by 366 university students, along with a self-assessment of mood. Results showed a small increase in scores with age for work-related cartoons, and also higher scores by males for the same items, but no age or gender differences for total scores, other cartoon categories (including anti-male and anti-female examples) or region of origin. There was a significant correlation between total scores and mood rating. Previous research on gender differences had yielded mixed findings. The present results appear to be largely uninfluenced by factors other than how inherently amusing the items were deemed to be, and with scant regard for political correctness.