LIST OF BOOKS AND ARTICLES (and some cartoons)


Humor is a characteristic of cultural systems. The publication of "Humor and Laughter: An Anthropological Approach" by Mahadev L. Apte (Cornell University Press 1985) sparked interest in humor as an important conceptual and methodological tool providing insights into behavioral patterns in society. 

(Cornell University Press 1985) 

Ted Cohen is a Professor in Philosophy, the College, the Committee on Art and Design, and the Committee on General Studies in the Humanities. Cohen's book offers some good jokes, but does not offer a systematic analysis of joke theory. If you can wait for the punchline, which often times takes a few paragraphs (or pages) to enjoy, some of these cerebral jokes are well worth the torment of anticipation. 

(University of Chicago Press 1999) 

Christie Davies is a British sociologist, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Reading, England, the author of many articles and books on criminology, the sociology of morality, censorship, and humor. Davies is past president of the International Society for Humor Studies. 

Indiana University Press (October 1996)

Robert R. Provine is the world's leading scientific expert on laughter. He is a Professor of Psychology and Assistant Director of the Neuroscience Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. 


Evolutionary Psychology – 2006. 4: 347-366
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Original Article

The First Joke: Exploring the Evolutionary Origins of Humor
Joseph Polimeni, Department of Psychiatry, University of Manitoba, 771 Bannatyne Avenue Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3E 3N4,

Jeffrey P. Reiss, Department of Psychiatry, University of Manitoba, 771 Bannatyne Avenue Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3E 3N4,

Abstract: Humor is a complex cognitive function which often leads to laughter. Contemporary humor theorists have begun to formulate hypotheses outlining the possible innate cognitive structures underlying humor. Humor’s conspicuous presence in the behavioral repertoire of humankind invites adaptive explanations. This article explores the possible adaptive features of humor and ponders its evolutionary path through hominid history. Current humor theories and previous evolutionary ideas on humor are reviewed. In addition, scientific fields germane to the evolutionary study of humor are examined: animal models, genetics, children’s humor, humor in pathological conditions, neurobiology, humor in traditional societies and cognitive archeology. Candidate selection pressures and associated evolutionary mechanisms are considered. The authors conclude that several evolutionary-related topics such as the origins of language, cognition underlying spiritual feelings, hominid group size, and primate teasing could have special relevance to the origins of humor.