Abstract Historical theories of humor rely on a classic distinction in philosophy, the distinction between reason and emotion. Such a distinction lends itself to qualitative rather than quantitative research. In the last 40 years, quantitative scholarship on laughter and comedy has become very popular, and often includes international and indigenous examples of laughter as a healing or teaching tool. This paper addresses the historical research on laughter and mockery, then shows the broad range of quantitative studies that have provided important data on the usefulness of humor in teaching and in memorization of material. While there are a variety of items that one might laugh at, there are also certain commonalities that transcend social groups.

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