Chapter 2. Fight or Flight – or Laughter

The Psychology of Humor

  1. John Morreall

Published Online: 11 NOV 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444307795.ch2

Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor

Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor

How to Cite

Morreall, J. (2009) Fight or Flight – or Laughter, in Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444307795.ch2

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 11 NOV 2009
  2. Published Print: 4 SEP 2009

Book Series:

  1. New Directions in Aesthetics

Book Series Editors:

  1. Dominic McIver Lopes1 and
  2. Berys Gaut2

Series Editor Information

  1. 1

    University of British Columbia, USA

  2. 2

    University of St Andrews, UK

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405196123

Online ISBN: 9781444307795



  • fight or flight – or laughter and psychology of humor;
  • humor and disengagement;
  • humorous amusement as distinguished from laughter;
  • fight-or-flight responses - getting hurt or losing something we value;
  • emotions and promoting individual, group and species survival;
  • amusement and standard emotions and their dissimilarities;
  • Bergson's Qui sent, pleure; Qui pense, rit;
  • Horace Walpole's “this world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel”;
  • humor as play - laughter and amusement;
  • laughter as play signal and analyzing humor as a kind of play


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Humor and Disengagement

  • Humor as Play

  • Laughter as a Play Signal