Assessing a person's beliefs using jokes

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why can the same joke have a different effect on people

Why can a person find a joke very funny while another person finds the same joke offensive?

And why do some people laugh much more than others when they hear certain jokes?
Is there another factor apart from humor that makes people laugh?

Yes there is. Human beings love approval and seek it through all possible ways. A Sad person might feel better on the short term when he listens to a sad song just because it resonates with his emotions. (see Why some people like depressing music)

People like it when external sources acknowledge their emotions and repeat their beliefs. The same thing exactly happens when a person listens to a joke. Before a person laughs at a joke his mind quickly assesses the beliefs in the joke and compares them to the his belief system.

If the joke supported a person's belief by repeating a statement that he believes in then most probably he will find the joke funnier provided that all other factors are constant.(see The psychology of jokes)

Assessing a person's beliefs using jokes

In my book how to make someone fall in love with you i said that the more information you can collect about a person the easier you will be able to make him fall in love with you.

Jokes, whether you say them or listen to them, are considered a great way for understanding a person's beliefs. If a person liked a joke so much (you can easily know this if he shared it online or laughed out loud at it) then most probably it matched his belief system. (see also How beliefs affect behaviour)

If a person said a joke then know for sure that it appealed to his belief system earlier and that's why he is repeating it.

here are few examples that show how jokes can reflect the beliefs and desires of a person:

  • Joking about wishes, desires and dreams: Ever passed by a Ferrari or an expensive car then a friend of yours said something like "Oh i forgot my keys"? while this might seem like a simple joke it actually tells a lot about that person's desire for money, status and luxury (see also Unmet needs psychology)
  • Putting enemies down: People always use jokes to make fun of their enemies especially in politics where they feel better after insulting a person or a group indirectly using a joke (see also Why do people talk about others)
  • supporting their beliefs: Here is a famous anti-feminist joke "Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: One to screw in the light bulb, two to make a documentary about it." As you can see the joke reflects the beliefs of the anti-feminists clearly

It is that easy?

No in real life its not. The examples above were so obvious and that's why it didn't take you seconds before you realized the real meaning behind them.

In real life the jokes people say do reflect their beliefs but in more subtle ways. Just learn how to analyze every word of the jokes you listen to and shortly you will become able to find a lot of information about a person right after listening to few of his jokes.

You can also make a test to find out whether a person believes in a certain thing by telling a related joke and watching for his response. As a general rule the louder the laughter the more the joke appealed to the person.

2knowmysef is not a complicated medical website nor a boring online encyclopedia but rather a place where you will find simple, to the point and effective information that is backed by psychology and presented in a simple way that you can understand and apply. If you think that this is some kind of marketing hype then see what other visitors say about 2knowmyself.The book How to make someone fall in love with you was released by 2knowmyself.com; the book will dramatically increase your chance of letting someone fall in love with you.

Want to know more?

What people's actions say about their personalities?

How the words people say reflect their personalities

What your driving style says about your personality

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