Apte, M. L. (1985). Humor and laughter: An anthropological approach. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

APTER'S REVERSAL THEORY OF HUMOR. The reversal theory of humor of the English psychologist Michael J. Apter (1939- ) makes the assumption that to experience humor, the person needs to be in a particular "state of mind" (or "metamotivational state") and, if the individual is not already in such a mind-state, then the "comedy" stimulus or material will need to induce it for humor to be manifested. When a person is in the metamoti-vational state, the greater the arousal in response to humorous material, the more intense is the pleasure or humor that is experienced. Reversal theory is an inclusive overarching approach that attempts to show, in this case, where humor fits into a more general structure of emotions and cognitions. One of the basic notions in reversal theory (M. J. Apter & K. C. Smith) is that there are a number of pairs of metamotivational or synergistic states that operate whereby one or the other of each pair is always activated during waking life and a switch, or reversal, from one to the other may be manifested under a variety of conditions with the result that individuals tend to switch back and forth between these states during their daily experiences. For example, one of the metamotivational pairs may consist of the "telic" and "paratelic" states where the former refers to a serious, goal-oriented state of mind, and the latter to a more playful state in which the person is involved with the immediate enjoyment of an experience where goals are "excuses" for the current behavior rather than the genuine reason for the behavior. Theoretically, when a person is in the "telic" state, high arousal is experienced as unpleasant and the accompanying anxiety is avoided, whereas low arousal is felt to be pleasant and relaxing. In contrast, for a person in the "paratelic" state, high arousal is experienced as pleasant and exciting, whereas low arousal or boredom is unpleasant. Typical results of studies employing the "telic-paratelic" dimension indicate that humorous material tends to induce the "paratelic" state - even in "telic state dominant" persons; and frequency of laughter in the "paratelic" state is correlated positively with the variables of degree of perceived arousal and arousal preference - which confirms a linear, rather than a ditonic, relation of hedonic tone to perceived arousal in the "paratelic" state. See also AROUSAL THEORY; HEDONISM, THEORY/LAW OF; HUMOR, THEORIES OF; PLEASURE-PAIN, DOCTRINE OF. REFERENCES

Apter, M. J., & Smith, K. C. (1979). Psychological reversals: Some new perspectives on the family and family com munication. Family Therapy, 6, 89100.

Apter, M. J. (1982). The experience of motivation: The theory of psychological reversals. London: Academic Press. Svebak, S., & Apter, M. J. (1987). Laughter: An empirical test of some reversal theory hypotheses. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 28, 189-198. Apter, M. J. (Ed.) (2001). Motivational styles in everyday life: A guide to reversal theory. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.


Do Not Panic

Do Not Panic

This guide Don't Panic has tips and additional information on what you should do when you are experiencing an anxiety or panic attack. With so much going on in the world today with taking care of your family, working full time, dealing with office politics and other things, you could experience a serious meltdown. All of these things could at one point cause you to stress out and snap.

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