Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type




First Advisor

Dr. Peter McGraw


We seek to examine how the level of “hypotheticality” (how real or abstract something seems) affects humor in this study. Under the Benign Violation Theory of humor (McGraw & Warren, 2010), or BVT, humor is a result of a benign violation. Psychological distance can enhance or limit humor based on the ability to reduce a sense of threat. Previous research has been limited to extreme violations either mild or severe. The purpose of our study is to give depth to intermediary violation severity and how they interact with humor and distance. We hypothesize the moderately hypothetical condition is the funniest as a close stimulus will be too close and uncomfortable to be humorous, and a distant one will be irrelevant. Two studies were conducted using first 76 university students and secondly 388 MTurk workers. The results did not reveal any significant differences in humor level between hypotheticality and severity.