My family is a peculiar cycle of funny and unfunny. My dad is an intelligent, accomplished, caring, and otherwise excellent father, but he’s a miserable comic. His jokes have nearly rendered me blind from how far back my eyes roll, and my cheeks sear in white-hot embarrassment when he tires out his “bits” on perfectly decent people who are trying to live their lives without having to decipher whether my dad is making a joke or having a mental collapse of some sort. In complete contrast, my grandfather, who turned 95 last month,is a well-respected columnist with an incredible sense of humor. Grandpa introduced me to Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and other classics of comedy when i was a kid, and his sense of humor was the pinnacle of hilarity during my childhood, and continues to crack me up to this day. He only stopped doing “Stroke Jokes” at age 90, after one of his goofball friends suffered a stroke and nobody believed it was real. A nonagenarian “Boy who called ‘Stroke’” cautionary tale, was the only way to get grandpa to stop goofing around with that stuff.
But you know who doesn’t find my grandpa funny at all? Who feels shame and terror every time my grandpa says or does something cheeky, or silly?
Why is Dad Humor so weak?
Alf gets into it – but real quick, here are a couple of problems:
-Dads are not cool to their kids because Dads are too busy being Dads. By the transitive property, Dad humor is not good either.
-Dads tell the same jokes over and over. To others, the jokes seem fresh, but not to kids. My quote to that effect:
Unfortunately, you often get the same joke over and over again. “We’re off like a turd of hurdles! Oops! I mean herd of turtles.” How many times do you need to hear that one before you want to slam your head in the car door?
Read the article here.
And a different type of Dad Humor, which never gets old. Enjoy:
When I say “how to begin your research paper,” I mean, “this is how you should structure the first one to three paragraphs of your research paper.”
Scholars, such as Daryl Bem, suggest taking an hour-glass approach to writing a research paper. Start with broad generalizations (e.g., “William James famously noted…”), winnow the literature down to your contribution, and then build out to broad implications. In contrast, I contend you should begin your research paper with a brief overview of the important puzzle the paper tackles and your original contribution that solves the puzzle.
There are many ways to do state the puzzle and the solution:
-Although theory E is commonly accepted, we show that because of F, G, and H, it is descriptively incomplete.
-People say X can’t happen, but we show it does under Y and Z circumstances.
-Although A says B is the norm, sometimes C occurs. We resolve this apparent discrepancy by means of D.
An example of an introductory paragraph from my work:
Although mental accounting research suggests that financial windfalls are spent more readily and frivolously than ordinary income, windfalls are sometimes spent reluctantly or virtuously—a consumption pattern that mental accounting does not predict. We introduce and test the related concept of emotional accounting, in which money is labeled by the feeling it evokes; this emotional label, in turn, influences how the money is spent. We show that when the feelings evoked by a windfall are negative, consumers engage in strategic consumption to cope with the negativity. In particular, they avoid hedonic purchases in order not to exacerbate their negative feelings and, when possible, they seek to use the money for relatively virtuous or utilitarian expenditures in order to alleviate or “launder” their negative feelings about the money. By incorporating consumers’ feelings about a sum of money into mental accounting, we explain behaviors that deviate from previously documented purchase patterns.
Levav, J., & McGraw, A.P. (2009). Emotional accounting: How feelings about money influence consumer choice. Journal of Marketing Research, 46, 66-80. (PDF)
- That’s not the way you were taught to do it. (And besides, Daryl Bem is smarter than you, Pete.)
- The paper already has an abstract.
- Writing the introductory overview will clarify your contribution and provide a map of the paper.
- An introductory overview increase liking by way of fluency. The readers will know what to expect and thus help them process information easier.
- The introductory overview recognizes that there are many types of readers of academic papers: Reviewers, editors, committee members, expert readers, casual readers, citation searchers, and a variety of non-experts (e.g., professionals, policymakers, journalists, your mom). The overview helps readers how are low involvement or are non-experts (or both).
- The introductory overview gives your paper your voice. It is your paper after all. William James can wait.
Don’t let this guy steal your thunder.
Two more examples. Note how they are written for the non-expert:
Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1979). Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk. Econometrica, 47, 263-291.
Expected utility theory has dominated the analysis of decision making under risk. It has been generally accepted as a normative model of rational choice , and widely applied as a descriptive model of economic behavior, e.g. [15, 4]. Thus, it is assumed that all reasonable people would wish to obey the axioms of the theory [47, 36], and that most people actually do, most of the time. The present paper describes several classes of choice problems in which preferences systematically violate the axioms of expected utility theory. In the light of these observations we argue that utility theory, as it is commonly interpreted and applied, is not an adequate descriptive model and we propose an alternative account of choice under risk.
Karremans, J. C., Stroebe, W., & Claus, J. (2006). Beyond Vicary’s fantasies: The impact of subliminal priming and brand choice. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 42, 792-798.
Subliminal advertising became notorious in 1957 through the publicity surrounding James Vicary, a private market researcher, who claimed to have substantially increased sales of Coca Cola and popcorn in a movie theatre, by secretly and subliminally presenting the message “Drink Coca Cola” and “Eat popcorn.” Nobody has replicated Vicary’s findings; his study has never been published and appears to have been a publicity hoax (Pratkanis, 1992). In the present article, we argue that Vicary’s fantasies do have some basis of reality. We argue that subliminally priming a brand name for a drink can increase the likelihood that participants will choose that drink, given the opportunity to do so. But importantly, as we will argue and demonstrate, priming of a brand name for a drink will only affect choice behavior of people who are thirsty (i.e., have a goal to drink) and not of people who are not thirsty.
Special thanks to Elissa Guralnick of the University of Colorado Boulder for teaching me this technique. Most everything I said above was taught to me by her.
(With Joel Warner. This post has appeared on the Humor Code’s Huffington Post and Psychology Today blogs.)
Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are garnering lots of attention these days. Some see large-scale, web-based classes as the new frontier for colleges and universities, a great leap forward that could revolutionize higher education. Duke University professor of psychology and behavioral economics Dan Ariely and his colleagues at the Center for Advanced Hindsight, on the other hand, see MOOCs as the perfect way to test Dan’s academic funny bone. Will the jokes that work in a traditional college classroom work in a class of say, several thousand online students?
We here at the Humor Code were happy to lend a hand. So as part of his recent MOOC, “A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior,” Dan told a joke at the beginning of each week’s online lecture video. We asked Dan to predict how funny and how offensive his students would find each of these zingers on a five-point scale, from “not at all” to “extremely.” We also had him rate how funny and how offensive he found each of his own jokes using the same scale.
We threw similar questions at the thousands of students subjected to the jokes each week. Using the five-point scale, we asked them how funny and how offensive they found each of Dan’s wisecracks. We also asked them to predict Dan’s own ratings: how funny did their teacher consider each of his own jokes?
Now that the six-week course has wrapped up, here are the results:
Funniness =3.3; Dan’s prediction = 4; Dan’s judgment = 5
Offensiveness = 1.3; Dan’s prediction = 1; Dan’s judgment = 1
Funniness = 3.4; Dan’s prediction = 4; Dan’s judgment = 5
Offensiveness = 1.7; Dan’s prediction = 2; Dan’s judgment = 1
Funniness = 3.4; Dan’s prediction = 5; Dan’s judgment = 5
Offensivenes = 1.8; Dan’s prediction =3; Dan’s judgment = 1
Funniness = 3.5; Dan’s prediction = 4; Dan’s judgment = 5
Offensiveness = 1.8; Dan’s prediction = 2; Dan’s judgment = 1
Funniness = 2.9; Dan’s prediction = 4; Dan’s judgment =4
Offensiveness = 1.6; Dan’s prediction = 2; Dan’s judgment =1
Funniness = 3.7; Dan’s prediction = 5; Dan’s judgment = 5
Offensiveness = 1.6; Dan’s prediction = 1; Dan’s judgment 1
It’s clear from the results that Dan’s jokes were funnier than they were offensive. All things considered, that’s a big accomplishment. According to the Benign Violation Theory, humor has its roots in potentially negative experiences (i.e., violations) that are made to seem okay in some way (i.e., benign). That makes joke telling risky because you can fail by being too benign or by creating too much of a violation. That risk may not be so great when you tell a few jokes to a couple dozen students in a college classroom. But when you’re talking about a MOOC audience in the thousands, with huge diversity in what people find funny and offensive, that risk can increase significantly. So the fact that Dan’s jokes went over well with his online students? That suggests online courses are a fine place for instructors to crack wise. Either that, or there is something about Dan that allows him to get away with pushing boundaries more than your normal professor.
Though, to be honest, Dan isn’t as funny as he thinks he is. He was pretty accurate in predicting how offensive his jokes were going to be – the difference between his jokes’ average offensiveness rating and his prediction was just 0.2. But he was far less precise in his funniness estimates. On average, he was nearly a full scale point (0.97) too optimistic about how well his jokes would go over.
Dan might have an inflated opinion of his own sense of humor, but he doesn’t come off that way to his students. On average, they predicted Dan would rate his own jokes more than a full scale point (-1.2) below how he actually rated them. Maybe he was a bit overzealous when he gave all but one of his jokes a five on the funniness scale.
As for other conclusions from the study? The results from week five suggest professors should not make jokes about someone’s parents having to move in with them. For most people, online or off, nothing about that scenario is benign.
Professor Peter McGraw (@PeterMcGraw) and journalist Joel Warner (@JoelmWarner) have embarked on the Humor Code, an around-the-world exploration of what makes things funny. Follow the Humor Code on Facebook and Twitter. Look for the book in early 2014.
I am at the Wharton School for a conference on emotions and retailing (see below).
I have written and spoken about the ways that humor is important. In short, humor enhances your well-being because it is pleasurable, smoothes social interactions, and enhances coping. This visit, however, got me thinking about ways that humor is important in retailing contexts.
1. Customers want it: Humor helps create a more pleasing environment and helps create more enjoyable interactions with sales people and customer service agents.
2. Employees want it: People work for more than just money. Retail environments are workplaces. Employees want an enjoyable, fun place to work.
3. Brands (might) want it: Humor is a way to delight customers – a goal of any company that relies on word of mouth. Moreover, to the degree that brands position themselves as fun (which occurs pretty much any time that a brand advertises humorously), retail experiences should be consistent with that positioning.
I suspect that you are thinking about the risks of pursuing humor in retail environments. And you are right to. I have considered these risks and have a solution. But you will have to come back later to learn about those solutions.
Academic-industry conference for leading academics and retail executives featuring state-of-the-art research on emotion in marketing and management/organizational behavior as well as industry practice.
Retailers are increasingly interested in the experiences they deliver to their consumers, managing and integrating consumer touch points to deliver brand-consistent experiences throughout. Emotions are an integral part of all stages of the retailing experience. During their shopping experiences, consumers may experience a range of emotions—excitement, happiness, hope, love, sadness, fear, anxiety, anger, disgust, etc.—, each of which may uniquely impact consumer decision making, behavior, and interactions.
Retailers are faced with the unique challenge of not only understanding and predicting the emotions consumers experience, but also with shaping retail environments and service encounters to cultivate desired emotions and eliminate undesired emotions. Retailers can do so externally, for example, strategically managing store design, product layout, etc. They can also do so internally, creating appropriate cultures, designing jobs, and managing employee performance in a way that recognizes the importance of employee emotions in their delivery of the customer shopping experience, as well as the importance of understanding the role of emotions in employee work performance overall and the success of the enterprise.
In this conference, we will explore some of the latest thinking on emotion in marketing and organizational behavior to better understood and optimize the retailing experience, connecting employee and consumer emotional experiences.
Boulder Startup Week is back.
Each May, we throw a 5-day event that showcases the unique startup culture of Boulder. No registration required. You’ll find meetups, coffee shop pow-wows, the largest Ignite in the world, parties, drinks, food, hikes, bike rides, sun, and good people.
Organizations are constantly making changes, whether pivoting in response to market forces or integrating a new culture after an acquisition.
But change is hard.
I suggest putting aside the carrots, sticks, and nudges and start using a counterintuitive technique: comedy. Drawing on behavioral research and cases, I show how humor helps facilitate new thinking and makes difficult seem more doable.
Three things that I suggest checking out:
-The BSW tent on Peal Street
-The Startup Crawl on Thursday
-BSW & BMoCA Unplug / Recharge on Friday
Find the full schedule is here.
During my recent trip to Erasmus University in the Netherlands, I asked marketing professor Ilona de Hooge what is the difference between guilt and shame:
In a recent blog post about guilty pleasures, I suggested that you can figure out what songs you feel guilty about by your attempts to hide your (bad) behavior from others. However, based on Ilona’s answer, I should rename the post: Shameful Pleasures.
Ilona knows a lot about shame and guilt:
-De Hooge, I.E. (2012). The exemplary social emotion guilt: Not so relationship-oriented when another person repairs for you. Cognition & Emotion, 26, 1189-1207.
-De Hooge, I.E., Zeelenberg, M. & Breugelmans, S. M. (2011). A functionalist account of shame induced behavior. Cognition & Emotion, 25(5), 939-946.
-De Hooge, I.E., Nelissen, R. M. A., Breugelmans, S. M. & Zeelenberg, M. (2011). What is moral about guilt? Acting “prosocially” at the disadvantage of others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(3), 462-473.
-De Hooge, I.E., Zeelenberg, M. & Breugelmans, S. M. (2010). Restore and protect motivations following shame. Cognition & Emotion, 24(1), 111-127.
-De Hooge, I.E., Breugelmans, S. M. & Zeelenberg, M. (2008). Not so ugly after all: When shame acts as a commitment device. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(4), 933-943.
-De Hooge, I.E., Zeelenberg, M. & Breugelmans, S. M. (2007). Moral sentiments and cooperation: Differential influences of shame and guilt. Cognition & Emotion, 21(5), 1025-1042.
Pretend that you are taking the class and join the Google chat on Friday, May 3rd at 5:00 PM Eastern (3:00 Mountain).
Keep this a secret, please. I could get in trouble.
Expect an update about the Humor Code project:
Huffington Post blog.
Psychology Today blog.
The Harlem Globetrotters are famous for using the gag to the delight of the crowd.
So, why is the confetti bucket funny? Most people will say surprise. But there are plenty of surprising things that would you could put in the bucket that would not result in laughter (e.g., nails, scorpions, dirty syringes).
The gag is funny because it is a benign violation. The theory proposes that humor occurs when a situation is simultaneously seen as wrong, unsettling or threatening (i.e., a violation) and okay, acceptable or safe (i.e., benign) – which occurs when you think that you are going to have a bucket of water thrown on you, but instead you get confetti.
My second “free research idea.” (Note: This one is not as good as the first.)
People can be nasty. When people are nasty on the internet, they are called trolls. Urban Dictionary’s definition of a troll:
One who purposely and deliberately (that purpose usually being self-amusement) starts an argument in a manner which attacks others on a forum without in any way listening to the arguments proposed by his or her peers. He will spark of such an argument via the use of ad hominem attacks (i.e. ‘you’re nothing but a fanboy’ is a popular phrase) with no substance or relevence to back them up as well as straw man arguments, which he uses to simply avoid addressing the essence of the issue.
Q: What is the best way to inhibit trolling?
A: Depends on how you define “best.” Ideally, the process is seen as fair, and thus would not involve censorship (i.e., someone deciding that a comment be taken down). With that in mind, I suggest using the crowd that is viewing the comments to decide the comments’ fate. The crowd can vote comments up or down. Good comments move up and troll-like comments move down. That way people’s comments will not be removed, but they will move so far down the list that few people will see them.
Q: How might this backfire?
A: If the average person reading the comments enjoy troll-like comments.
UPDATE: After I wrote this post, I noticed that CNN uses the technique I suggest. Scooped!