Scientific article
Open access

Investigating vision in schizophrenia through responses to humorous stimuli

Published inSchizophrenia Research: Cognition, vol. 2, no. 2, p. 84-88
Publication date2015

The visual environment of humans contains abundant ambiguity and fragmentary information. Therefore, an early step of vision must disambiguate the incessant stream of information. Humorous stimuli produce a situation that is strikingly analogous to this process: Funniness is associated with the incongruity contained in a joke, pun, or cartoon. Like in vision in general, appreciating a visual pun as funny necessitates disambiguation of incongruous information. Therefore, perceived funniness of visual puns was implemented to study visual perception in a sample of 36 schizophrenia patients and 56 healthy control participants. We found that both visual incongruity and Theory of Mind (ToM) content of the puns were associated with increased experienced funniness. This was significantly less so in participants with schizophrenia, consistent with the gestalt hypothesis of schizophrenia, which would predict compromised perceptual organization in patients. The association of incongruity with funniness was not mediated by known predictors of humor appreciation, such as affective state, depression, or extraversion. Patients with higher excitement symptoms and, at a trend level, reduced cognitive symptoms, reported lower funniness experiences. An open question remained whether patients showed this deficiency of visual incongruity detection independent of their ToM deficiency. Humorous stimuli may be viewed as a convenient method to study perceptual processes, but also fundamental questions of higher-level cognition.

  • Vision
  • Gestalt perception
  • Humor appreciation
  • Schizophrenia
  • Theory of Mind (ToM)
  • Incongruity
Research group
Citation (ISO format)
TSCHACHER, Wolfgang et al. Investigating vision in schizophrenia through responses to humorous stimuli. In: Schizophrenia Research: Cognition, 2015, vol. 2, n° 2, p. 84–88. doi: 10.1016/j.scog.2015.04.007
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal2215-0013

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