Television sitcoms in which characters make jokes at someone else’s expense are no laughing matter for older adults, according to a study.
Jennifer Tehan Stanley, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Akron, studied how young, middle-aged and older adults reacted to so-called “aggressive humour”.
This is the kind which is a staple on shows such as The Office.
The researchers showed clips from The Office and other sitcoms (including Golden Girls and Mr Bean) to adults of varying ages.
And they found that young and middle-aged adults considered aggressive humour to be funny while older adults did not.
The older adults preferred “affiliative humor,” in which a number of characters share and navigate an awkward situation.
Stanley and her co-authors, Monika Lohani of Brandeis University and Derek M. Isaacowitz of Northeastern University, published their findings in the journal Psychology and Aging.
The study raises intriguing questions about our concept of what is funny.
Is that concept based on factors peculiar to generations or does it evolve over time as we age and, perhaps, mellow?
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