Is Humor taught or hereditary?

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Is Humor taught or hereditary?

Postby Sabina » Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:05 am

Humor has been a topic here on DS in various ways and/or approached from a number of different angles.... which brings me to the question(s):

Is humor taught or is it hereditary?
Can it be explained or do we simple either "get it" or not "get it"?

In my experience explaining humor doesn't work. Not if the person you are explaining it to doesn't have a (developed) sense of humor. They may have a basic understanding of the concept of humor but simply never have nourished and developed it further.

They themselves would probably not share this view. Since their familiarity with humor is what they perceive as a maximum, they could see it that they do have this maximum and that they therefore have a healthy sense of humor.

Such people often get offended by humor simply because they don't understand it. They may take it personal or worse, get insulted. They may also simply feel hurt based on feeling left out.
To them being around humorous people would be similar to being surrounded with people who speak a foreign language.
If this person thinks or knows that the others are capable of communicating in a language they also understand, it stands to reason that they could get hurt because then it seems like it's a choice by these "others" to leave them out of it. The person with a less developed sense of humor could therefore feel neglected or inaudibly expelled.

What are your thoughts?
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Re: Is Humor taught or hereditary?

Postby dermot » Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:34 pm

My thoughts Sabina?

Personally im still struggling with the whole 'which came first' debate..as in chicken / egg.

Im sure there are numerous good reasons for me to progress towards the 'humour taught or hereditary' debate that seemingly rages elsewhere.

Its interesting though because i have watched people/friends who just dont get the depth in humour. They seem to completely miss a level that others glory in, their minds cannot adapt to the shift in perspective or levesl of awareness that happens when humour goes deep, and yet to be one of those who can appreciate the shift is so thrilling. I cant imagine a day without that release!

From experience i think people who dont 'get it' ...never do, they cant. Which means there is a wealth of opportunity to be funny at their expense (and they dont know it)! WIn , Win!
....the heart only whispers, be still and listen....
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Re: Is Humor taught or hereditary?

Postby mirjana » Wed Jun 29, 2011 8:45 pm

Interesting question Sabina.
Dermot, I like very much how you explained your thoughts.
As about mine...one of character aspects I like and admire very much is a sense for humor. Why? Because with a person who has a sense for humor the whole relationship is much more alive, interesting and relaxing, allowing both involved personalities to explore in a playful way feeling free.
Lack of humor on the other hand burdens the flow in communication developing tension between involved parties and in such communication I feel like a bird whose wings have been broken with expectations to fly in spite of it.
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Re: Is Humor taught or hereditary?

Postby Rachel » Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:29 am

Nature vs nurture..the age old question.

Not sure actually - your post raises some interesting points, Sabina.

I think that sometimes humour can relate to the depth of friendship between people too - I have more nuanced humour with my dearest friends than I do with colleagues and acquaintances.

Re: Learnt or Innate - I think its both. I have silliness which is largely genetic, and double edged dead pan which is innate.

Could it be that you are also speaking of a group of people more familiar with each other, and therefore more likely to be at ease with one another's humour and related depth?

I recently had a joke made at my expense, which yes, was amusing in its concept and delivery. However, I had only recently met the person who made the joke, and was a newcomer to that particular group of people who had all known each other for a significant amount of time. As a consequence, I thought it was rather socially gauche on behalf of the comedian - as one feels 'new' for a long, long time and to have a joke, however harmless made at my expense felt like a rejection.

In short, it hurt.

I did of course understand the joke yet being a newcomer the intent was unclear. Was it designed to hurt and outcast, to taint others views of me? Was it a gentle dig? Was it intended to have another effect?

So in comment to your closing paragraphs - I think yes, I agree, humour does have the potential to outcast, ostracise and hurt. But whether that was the intent, relies solely on the depth of relationship betwee the Joker and the Jokee. I think its not so much a familarity with the humour, or a less developed sense of humour in all cases, per se, rather a familiarity with the social players in the situation can make the world of difference between a successful inclusive chuckle, and a potentially blaming, hurtful and complex scenario.
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Re: Is Humor taught or hereditary?

Postby dermot » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:47 pm

Hi Chessa, im not sure i agree with all you say re humour.

For me its about encountering someone who is either open or closed in terms of how they think? We already know this about people we meet frequently and can judge how far to go in terms of humour with them...if we cant go deep then its probably some defensive mechanism they are using to protect themselves.
Recently i met someone who was so open that we were able to relate really deeply using humour, what was happening i believe was that we both decided defences were not necessary and proceeded to really enjoy our interaction. There are people i know very well who would be unable to do this with me, even though i have the ability (humour)to be that way with them.
I believe this can happen in a few seconds and sets up a future friendship based always on that connection.
Its called being light hearted i think????
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Re: Is Humor taught or hereditary?

Postby Jade » Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:42 pm

This topic reminds me of something the philosopher (and psychologist) William James wrote:

"Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds.
A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing."
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    a man is good-for-nothing until he is educated."

    Chinese proverb
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Re: Is Humor taught or hereditary?

Postby Rachel » Sun Jul 24, 2011 9:51 pm

You all raise some really good points and there's definitely food for thought amongst them.

I must make a distinction between innate and genetic, because reading over my previous answers to Sabina's original post I've realised that I've used the two words tautologically.

I have innately (as in I was born with it) very dry, ambiguous humour which many people, save for my husband and my father, struggle to contextualize and understand. I have found this to be to my detriment socially as I have largely been perceived frequently as a person possessing social strategies I do not have the time to concoct.

I have learnt, from family (of origin and creation); that I have a talent for self deprecating humour with keen timing and delivery. Of this, I am quite pleased. =0@

During my recent travels, I have found many kindreds with this humour. It is this humour and ensuing social awareness, which forms an integral part of the familial inlaw-engagement.



My husband has said ever since I met him over a decade ago that, " To Know Rachel, is to Love Rachel ".

I am a very loved woman. <3
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