Give Now

A Moment of Science

Bad Mood? Here’s A Good Joke

How does a good joke make us forget our negative emotions?

joke_023

Photo: richard ling (flickr)

Why do jokes about sharks make us forget our negative emotions?

Why does a good joke or two always seem to make us feel better?

One reason may be that when you’re in a bad mood you’re infected by all sorts of negative emotions. So a funny joke replaces bad emotions with good ones.

But lots of things, like getting a compliment or reading a good book, also convey positive emotions. Yet studies have shown that there’s something about a good joke, in particular, that’s good at chasing away the blues.

So What’s The Secret?

It has to do with the mental work involved in “getting” a joke. Say you’re in a bad mood, feeling sort of depressed and you are told a joke:

Why won’t sharks attack lawyers? Why? Professional courtesy.

Distraction

It’s not the greatest joke in the world, but it takes a little thinking to get the punch line. And when you do that, your mind is temporarily distracted from what’s weighing it down.

Solving The Puzzle

There’s a sort of mental elation that comes with solving the puzzle.

It’s almost like you forget you’re in a bad mood. Of course, some moods are so dark that not even the funniest joke will do the trick. But often times, a clever joke really does lighten a bad mood.

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science