Department of Psychology
London, Ontario

January - April, 1998

Calendar Description
Course Information
Course Objectives
Test and Examination Schedule
Class Schedule
Seminar Assignment
Essay Assignment
Seminar and Essay Topics
Other Humour Links


This seminar course will focus on theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding humour from a psychological perspective. Topics to be covered include: traditional and contemporary theories of humour, conceptualization and measurement of individual differences in sense of humour, social psychological, biological, developmental, and cognitive aspects of humour, and humour as a moderator of life stress. Students will present a seminar in class, submit a written essay, and write a final exam.

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Instructor:Dr. Rod A. Martin
Office and Phone Number:SSC 7400 661-3665
Teaching Assistant:Henry Danso SSC 7235
Office Hours:Thurs, 1 - 3 p.m.
Time and Location of Classes:Tuesdays 1 - 4 p.m. SSC 3103

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There is no textbook for this course. Weekly readings will be left in an envelope on the instructor's office door (SSC 7400). Students are responsible to make photocopies of these readings (returning the original promptly) and read them prior to each week's class.

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Humour is a ubiquitous and intriguing aspect of everyday life that touches on all areas of psychology. For example, humour may be viewed from the perspectives of personality, social, biological, developmental, cognitive, and clinical psychology. The purpose of this course is to examine ways in which theoretical and empirical methods drawn from each of these areas of psychology have been applied to the various phenomena of humour. During the first few weeks of the course, lectures will be presented by the instructor covering basic theoretical and methodological issues, approaches to studying individual differences in sense of humour, and research on humour as a moderator of life stress. The remainder of the course will involve student seminar presentations of research on various aspects of humour selected from a list of suggested topics. In preparation for each week's class, students will be expected to read one or two assigned articles or book chapters. Students will also be required to write an essay on the same topic as their seminar that also includes a research proposal. There will be a final exam covering the readings and classroom presentations.

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A) Participation (10%) Student attendance and participation in class discussions will be evaluated each week. Pertinence of the comments made, depth of understanding of the material, and amount of involvement will be taken into account.

B) Seminar Presentation (35%) Each student will give a seminar in class, presenting a critical review and analysis of research in a particular topic area relating to humour. The topic will be chosen by the student from the list of possible topics given below. The presentation will be evaluated for both style and content.

C) Essay Assignment (35%) Students will write a paper of approximately 2500 words. This may be on the same topic as their seminar presentation. The paper will review the research and theoretical issues in the chosen topic area, and will then present a proposal for a study designed by the student to extend current research findings.

D) Final Examination (20%) The final examination will cover weekly readings as well as material presented in class. It will be composed of multiple choice and short-answer questions.

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Essay DueTuesday, April 7
Final ExaminationTBA

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Jan. 6Introduction to Psychology of Humour
Jan. 13Theories of Humour
Jan. 20Approaches to Sense of Humour
Jan. 27Development of the SHRQ and CHS
Feb. 3Sense of Humour as a Moderator of Life Stress
Feb. 10Further Research on Humour and Coping
Feb. 17Student Presentations: Developmental Aspects of Humour
Feb. 24*** No Class - Conference Week ***
Mar. 3Student Presentations: Social Psychological Aspects of Humour
Mar. 10Student Presentations: Humour and Culture
Mar. 17Student Presentations: Humour and Personality
Mar. 24Student Presentations: Cognitive Aspects of Humour
Mar. 31Student Presentations: Biological Aspects of Humour
Apr. 7Student Presentations: Applications of Humour

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Students will select different topics from the list below. Each week, a group of three or four students will present individual seminars (40 - 45 minutes for each student) on different specific topics within the same broad topic area. In preparing the seminar presentations, each group should meet together several times to ensure that there is minimal overlap among students' presentations and that the topic areas are covered adequately, as well as to generally co-ordinate the overall group presentation. Early in their preparation, each group should also meet with the course instructor during office hours to discuss relevant articles and resources. At least one week before their seminar, group members should decide on one or two representative articles or chapters and provide copies of these to the course instructor. These will be made available to the rest of the class, and should be read by all students before the class meeting. In their seminar presentations, students should review the main theoretical and research questions in their topic area, present the methods and findings of several studies that have addressed these questions, discuss the major conclusions than can be drawn, and suggest directions for future research. Use of audio-visual resources is encouraged. Be sure to leave time for class members to ask questions and engage in discussion. Students will be evaluated individually. Marks will be based on both content (accuracy and adequacy of coverage of the relevant literature, evidence of critical thinking, etc.) and style (organization, interestingness, encouragement of class involvement, etc.).

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Each student will write an essay of approximately 2500 words (about 10 typed, double-spaced pages) on one of the topics listed below. This may be the same topic as the student's seminar presentation. The essay should include an overview of the relevant theoretical and methodological issues in this topic area, a critical discussion of previous research, and a review of the major conclusions and remaining questions. In addition, the essay should include a fairly detailed research proposal, outlining a proposed study that would address some of the remaining questions. This should include specification of the rationale and hypotheses, methods of operationally defining variables, description of the methodology, and discussion of how the results might contribute to our knowledge. Citations, references, and general style should follow APA format. The essays will be graded for accuracy and adequacy of coverage of the relevant literature, evidence of critical thinking, originality of thought, and writing style.

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1. Developmental Aspects of Humour

2. Social Psychological Aspects of Humour

3. Humour and Culture

4. Humour and Personality

5. Cognitive Aspects of Humour

6. Biological Aspects of Humour

7. Applications

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Revised Jan. 15, 1998 by Dr. Rod A. Martin