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The Effects of Humor and Incongruence on Word Recall Essay

Fifteen undergraduates from the University of California, Los Angeles participated in this experiment. There were 8 men and 7 women, age ranging from 19 to 30 years old. All 15 participants were enrolled in a research method class and they participated in the experiment as a part of a course requirement. Design A 2 x 2 (Type of sentence x image) within-subjects factorial design was used. The two independent variables were the type of sentence and the type of image with the respective to the italicized word in the sentence.

The two levels of the type of sentence were humorous and nonhumorous sentences. The two levels of the type of image were matching or nonmatching images respective to the italicized words in their sentences. Matching images depict the italicized word in their corresponding sentences. Nonmatching images did not depict the italicized words. The dependent variable was the number of italicized words correctly recalled. Materials Sentences. Two sets of 20 sentences obtained from Schidmt (1994) were used. At the humorous sentence level, the 20 sentences had the mean rate for humor ranging from 3.

08 to 4. 0. At the nonhumorous sentence level, 20 other sentences had the mean rate for humor ranging from 1. 25 to 2. 86. The intensity of humor was determined by participants using a 5-point Likert-type scale where 5. 0 was the highest humor rating. Using these two sets of sentences, four lists were created, each with 20 different sentences. Random assignment was used to determine the placement of the sentences on the lists so that the serial positions of the sentences across the four lists are different from one list to the other.

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The words that will be used for recall were always italicized across the four lists. Pictures. 20 Microsoft Word Clip Art images were used for the matching conditions. The images were obtained using the key words of the italicized words. For the nonmatching condition, 10 neutral key words (i. e. , sun, flower) were used to obtain the 10 images from Clip Art. The nonmatching images were randomly assigned to the sentences. Each of the four lists has the same type and number of nonmatching images. Within every list, an image only appeared once.

All images were 261 pixel by 159 pixel. All images were presented centered and below its respective sentence. PowerPoint slides. Computers with Microsoft PowerPoint program were randomly assigned to show one of the four types of sentences to participants. Four different lists each with 20 sentences and 20 images were obtained. Each list has 5 humorous sentences with matching images, 5 humorous sentences with nonmatching images, 5 nonhumorous sentences with matching images, and 5 nonhumorous sentences with nonmatching images.

I counterbalanced the lists to control for order effect so that the serial positions of the 20 sentences are random within each of the four lists. To control for specific item effect, I use a balance Latin square to ensure that each of the 20 italicized words from the two sets of sentences appear in each of the four experimental condition. PowerPoint slides were used to present all the instructions, lists of words and pictures, and the first five math problems. Response sheet. A 8 1/2 in. by 11 in. paper were used to write the italicized words that the participants recalled.

Distractor test. 10 arithmetic math problems were used as a distractor test. The first five math problems were presented in a PowerPoint slide and the next five math problems were presented in a 8 1/2 in. by 11 in. piece of paper. The reason why the distractor task was divided into both a PowerPoint and regular written exercise was to reduce as much of the demand characteristics of the experiments as possible. Participants write the answer to all 10 math problems on the paper. Procedures Participants were randomly assigned to a computer with one of the four types of lists.

The experimenter told the participants to follow the instructions on the packet of paper given to them on how to access the presentation lists and the instructions presented by the computer. The experimenters made sure that all participants got to their respective lists before telling them to begin. Participants all started together. The instructions on the computer directed the participants to look the following 20 slides and try to remember as much information as they can about the slide. Each slide was shown for 7 seconds, one after another, and a blank screen was shown for 2 seconds between each slide.

After all 20 slides were shown, a new slide informed the participants that they now have five minutes to solve both the five math problems presented in the slide and five math problems on the sheet next to the computer. The experimenter announced that time was up and told the participants to stop what they were doing and were to look back at the computer for further instructions. The final slide appeared on the screen and instructed the participants to write down as many italicized words as they can remember on the recall sheet.

The recall test was an unexpected recall test because the participants did not expect that they need to remember the italicized words of the sentences rather than images or the content of the sentences. In the process of counting the number of italicized word correctly recalled, I used a lenient scoring criteria. If the main meaning of the correct italicized word was written if not the exact word, it would still be counted as a correctly recalled word. For example if the correct word was “cheap” but “cheaply” was written, it would be counted as one correctly recalled word.

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