“Identifying social gaffes is important for maintaining relationships. Older adults are less able than young to discriminate between socially appropriate and inappropriate behavior in video clips. One open question is how these social appropriateness ratings relate to potential age differences in the perception of what is actually funny or not. In the present study, young, middle-aged, and older adults were equally able to discriminate between appropriate and inappropriate social behavior in a diverse set of clips relevant across age groups. However, young and middle-aged adults rated the gaffe clips as funnier than control clips and young adults smiled more during the inappropriate clips than the control clips. Older adults did not show this pattern, suggesting that they did not find the inappropriate clips funny. Additionally, young adults endorsed a more aggressive humor style than middle-aged and older adults and aggressive humor style endorsement mediated age differences in social appropriateness ratings. Results are discussed in terms of possible mechanisms such as cohort differences in humor and developmental prioritization of certain humor styles, as well as the importance of investigating age differences in both abilities and preferences.”
Bonus table: descriptions of clips used:
NCBI ROFL: Humor and death: a qualitative study of The New Yorker cartoons (1986-2006).
NCBI ROFL: Dying with laughter…literally.
NCBI ROFL: Aggression-inhibiting influence of sexual humor.