Wednesday, 11 July 2007

It's harder to "get" jokes as you age

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It's a common stereotype: old people don't get jokes. Usually, the assumption is that older folks miss out on humor because of the generation gap, but recent research suggests that it's something more.

Apparently the real reason older adults have difficulty understanding jokes is because they have problems with cognitive flexibility, abstract reasoning and short-term memory.

Researchers created a test in which two groups were supposed to select the most-appropriate punchline to a joke from 1983 -- that way, participants didn't have to be familiar with contemporary pop culture to find it funny, and everyone would theoretically have the same chance of getting it right. However, the study's authors found that younger adults were 6 percent more likely to answer correctly than their older counterparts.

Of course, humor is a subjective thing -- some people, I'm sure, failed the test simply because they didn't have a sense of humor.

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