COMIC PERCEPTION AND INCONGRUENT CAUSAL EVENTS: THE ROLE OF PARADOXICAL ANIMACY

  • Giulia Parovel
  • Daniela Bressanelli

Abstract

As noticed by Michotte (1946), triggering effect, in which there is incongruity between cause and effect, produces a funny impression. To explore this phenomenon and more generally the perceptual bases of humor, we focused on the role of paradoxical animacy, that is, the simultaneous presence of mechanical and psychological features, in causal paradigm. We hypothesized that animations that produce animacy impressions are associated with higher comic ratings than animations producing only mechanical incongruity. In the present experiment the second part of the causal event varied in speed, size, shape, color, or trajectory, generating 13 animations incongruent with launching. We measured the impression of both animacy and comic on a 1-10 scale in 28 naïve observers. Data analysis showed a significant correlation between animacy and comic ratings. General findings strongly suggest that paradoxical animacy is a relevant factor in perception of humor.

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