Understanding of comical texts in people with different types of attitudes towards humour


Internet memes
humour understanding

How to Cite

Rivin, D., & Shcherbakova, O. (2021). Understanding of comical texts in people with different types of attitudes towards humour: evidence from Internet memes. The European Journal of Humour Research, 9(2), 112–131. https://doi.org/10.7592/EJHR2021.9.2.456


This study aimed to test a hypothesis about the correlation between levels of gelotophobia, gelotophilia, and katagelasticism and understanding of Internet memes as a specific form of humour. Participants were 45 native speakers of Russian (aged 18 – 30; 73,3 % female). The levels of Internet memes understanding were assessed independently by two judges with the use of criteria based on the results of a series of semi-structured in-depth interviews. Gelotophobia, gelotophilia, and katagelasticism were assessed with PhoPhiKat <30> questionnaire. J. Raven’s “Standard Progressive Matrices” test was used to control the level of psychometric intelligence. Concordance of judges’ scores for the understanding of memes was assessed with Kendall’s W and ranged from 0.71 to 0.84. Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient was used to test the main hypothesis. We found no correlation between the scores for gelotophobia, gelotophilia, and katagelasticism and understanding of Internet memes. Presumably, the type of attitude towards humour does not play a significant role in the understanding of comical texts. The qualitative content analysis of the interview protocols revealed some specific features of cognitive mechanisms of Internet memes understanding. Namely, successful participants with higher levels of understanding of Internet memes reflected more on their thinking process than those with lower levels of understanding of Internet memes, easily switched from an abstract level of reasoning to a concrete one, and tended to consistently develop detailed mental representations of the memes.



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