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Provide an example of a simple study using Schmidt as a model with humorous and non-humorous on the memory?


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Schmidt’s study on the effect of humor on memory is well-known, not only for its results, but also for its simple study design. The study, or actually the series of studies, suggested that humor increased attention and rehearsal of material, improving overall material of humorous material versus non-humorous material.  The study designs were simple comparative studies that directly compared humorous and non-humorous materials.  However, there is a problem with those studies.  While there are well-known health benefits of humor and laughing, humor is subjective.  That subjectivity can make it difficult to design a simple comparative study, since the foundation of the study relies on some information being considered funny and other information being considered not funny. Some of Schmidt’s later studies recognized this subjectivity and looked primarily at within-subject responses to cartoons that were labeled humorous and non-humorous. 

I would design a study that took this subjectivity into account.  The study would show a person a series of 100 cartoons, in groups of 10 cartoons at a time, requiring them to label them as funny or not funny at the same time they are viewing them.  The order of the cartoons in the groups would be randomized to help control for primacy and recency effects.  Then, I would look at the content memory for the cartoons and how that content memory was affected by each subject’s own evaluation of whether the material was funny or not funny.  Instead of comparing the group results, it would look at individual results.  Then, if there were cartoons that the groups rated as “universally” funny or not funny (90% or more agreement on the cartoon’s characterization), I would compare the memory results based on those types of cartoons.  

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