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J Autism Dev Disord. 2010 Apr;40(4):438-47. doi: 10.1007/s10803-009-0885-2.

Stimulus characteristics affect humor processing in individuals with Asperger syndrome.

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Department of Psychology, University of Fribourg, Rue Faucigny 2, Fribourg, Switzerland.


The present paper aims to investigate whether individuals with Asperger syndrome (AS) show global humor processing deficits or whether humor comprehension and appreciation depends on stimulus characteristics. Non-verbal visual puns, semantic and Theory of Mind cartoons were rated on comprehension, funniness and the punchlines were explained. AS individuals did not differ to the control group in humor appreciation of visual puns. However, they had difficulty understanding and appreciating Theory of Mind cartoons and provided mentalistic explanations less frequently than controls suggesting that humor processing is strongly related to the cognitive requirements that the stimuli pose on the perceiver. Furthermore, AS individuals referred in all conditions more frequently to non-joke relevant details. Therefore, humor processing is also influenced by their detail-oriented processing style.

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