The humor effect defined - Deepstash

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The Humor Effect: How Laughing Helps You Remember

The humor effect defined

The humor effect is a psychological phenomenon that causes people to remember information better when that information is perceived as funny or humorous.

The use of humor enhances people’s memory, whether they are trying to remember verbal information, such as words and sentences, or visual information, such as pictures and videos.

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The Verbatim Effect

The verbatim effect is a cognitive bias that makes people remember the general outline and meaning of the information that is provided and not the exact, complete details.

Example: While reading a long text, a person can remember what the core message was, but not the entire text.

Why We Experience the Verbatim Effect

There are two main memory processes:

  • Gist Memory concentrates on the core meaning of the information.
  • Verbatim Memory focuses on the surface form or the easily visible part of the information.

The Gist Memory is encoded in a better way because it is an important part of the information, and is not apparent at first, making it desirable and thus easier to retain.

Variance in the Verbatim Effect

The Verbatim Effect varies in its influence on people and may or may not occur in situations, as it depends on several factors like:

  • The individual's preferences, abilities, and experience.
  • The type of information, along with the reason for interacting with the information. A meaningless piece of information will not have any verbatim effect on an individual.
Humor at work
Humor at work

Being funny can have both positive and negative consequences, in your personal as well as your professional life. And context is always important: when making a joke, for instance, you should definitely make sure the moment is appropriate for such a behavior.

Making the good jokes at the proper moment can help you become everybody's favorite at the workplace. However, making a bad joke can lead even to being fired: so make sure to choose your attitude appropriately.

Humor and its effects on the status

Humor and status have always been tightly linked: good leaders seem to often use humor in order to motivate their team members' actions. As individuals, we tend to prefer, researchers claim, jokes that make us laugh while feeling slightly uncomfortable.

Furthermore, we perceive the joke teller as a self-confident person, who could easily become a leader due to his or her courage to make such a joke. The key point here is that the joke should be appropriate and match the context.

Inside jokes

Making inside jokes usually shows how bounded a team or a group is: their jokes can understood the best by themselves.

However, the moment an outsider integrates the group, it is better to avoid the inside jokes, as this will most probably make him or her feel out of place.

Anyone can use humor

Appropriate humor relaxes an audience and makes them feel more comfortable with you as the speaker. 

Humor can bring attention to the point you are making and help the audience better remember it.

Developing Anecdotes

The best and most comfortable place to find humor comes from your own personal experience. 

Jot down funny ideas as you come across it that might appeal to your audience - an embarrassing moment that you might not have found funny at the time, or a funny conversation you had. 

Honing the Delivery

Make sure your choose humor is funny to you. First practice with small groups of people. Pay attention to the way your are delivering the joke or quip.

Only use humor in a speech after you are comfortable telling it from memory and have tested it.