Laugh, I almost died

I’ve just discovered some important psychological research on cartoons, which, I think, has an important social message for us all.

A 1983 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that cartoon violence is hilarious, no matter whether you’re adult or child, native or foreign, rich or poor, cat or mouse.

More aggressive cartoons are funnier

McCauley C, Woods K, Coolidge C, Kulick W.

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1983 Apr;44(4):817-23.

Independent rankings of humor and aggressiveness were obtained for sets of cartoons drawn randomly from two different magazines. The correlation of median humor and median aggressiveness rankings ranged from .49 to .90 in six studies involving six different sets of cartoons and six different groups of subjects, including children and adults, high and low socioeconomic status (SES) individuals, and native- and foreign-born individuals. This correlation is consistent with Freudian, arousal, and superiority theories of humor. Another prediction of Freudian theory, that high-SES subjects should be more appreciative of aggressive humor than low-SES subjects, was not supported.

This is a proud day for the Acme Corporation.

Link to PubMed study on the funniness of aggressive cartoons.

One Comment

  1. Posted April 8, 2009 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    I once rented a kid’s movie that also had on it some old Disney cartoons of the vintage that the Simpsons’ Itchy and Scratchy are parodies of–or one could say pretty accurate portrayals. I was really taken aback. But I was more taken aback at the hilarity of the kids watching, who were generally gentle, considerate kids, just about rolling on the floor!


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