Emotional structure of jokes: A corpus-based investigation
Although considerable attention has been paid to the cognitive structure of humor, its emotional structure tends to be overlooked. Humor is often associated with the single emotion of mirth or amusement, while other aspects of its rich emotional structure are ignored. The purpose of the present study was to explore this structure by analyzing the content of a Taiwanese corpus of 204 ‘negative’ jokes to identify the basic emotion was induced and the emotional shift pattern of the joke. Additionally, the corpus might be used to compare emotional reversal jokes (negative to positive emotion) and regular jokes (neutral to positive emotion) as an aid when preparing materials for use in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) investigations on the neural substrates of humor. In terms of basic emotions, 82 fear jokes, 61 disgust jokes, 42 sadness jokes and 19 anger jokes were found. The most common type of emotional shift was from negative to positive, with the punch lines of 114 jokes providing relief from the negative emotion by either diverting attention away from it or dissolving it entirely.