chapter  5
7 Pages

Humour and laughter

Humour is a positive state of mind produced when someone says or does something incongruous, unexpected or absurd, or this occurs for some other reason, and people laugh. Finding things funny is a special kind of joy, and therefore important for happiness. It is a very common feature of life: it happens about 18 times a day, most often in spontaneous response to situations in the presence of others (Martin and Kuiper, 1999). Humour is important for this book, because it puts people in a good mood, or is the result of a good mood, and it can also have a profound influence on happiness. We shall see in Chapter 13 that humour is one of the standard methods of positive mood induction. A large proportion of TV and radio programmes are devoted to making people laugh; it looks as if there is a widespread desire to be happy, or at any rate to be in a positive mood, and the media are widely used to achieve it-by means of humour. Whatever they are about, TV programmes have to be amusing and entertaining (Argyle, 1996).