Invitation to the 2nd Summer School and Colloquium on Humour and Laughter

at Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, 24th -29th June 2002

Preliminary web-site, come back soon for updates (last update 18 June, 2002 )

School dates and location

The summer school will be held between Monday 24th June and Saturday 29th June. The summer school and colloquium will take place at the School of Psychology, David Keir Building, 18/30 Malone Road.

Aims and Objectives for the Summer School

Interest in both research on humour and practical applications of humour has increased sharply in the past decade. Humor and laughter are central topics in the flourishing area of positive psychology. For new research students just beginning their research careers or those already-trained researchers considering a first research project on humour, this course will ensure that they enter the field with a strong foundation in existing theoretical and methodological issues, and are well versed in the pitfalls confronting the scientific study of humour. For those interested in practical applications of humour in a variety of applied settings, the course will introduce them to the kinds of approaches that are being used around the world to put humour to work and to deliver the benefits of humour and laughter.

Structure of Course

a) Course

There will be three Strands; one each devoted to theory, research and applications of humour and laughter.

I. Theory and research. In this strand of the Summer School participants will consider a range of theoretical issues in relation to research into humour and laughter, Definitions, concepts and terminologies will be discussed and their importance for humour researchers will be highlighted. The history of humour research will be outlined and research relating to the ways in which humour can improve quality of life will be discussed.

II. Methods. Whether applying for funding, conducting academic research, or evaluating a programme, it is important to have an understanding of the methods applied to research in humour and laughter, and of their relative strengths and weaknesses in a range of contexts. This strand will meet the needs of participants, by both equipping them with a broad overview of important issues, and considering a range of ways of measuring various aspects of humour and laughter. This quantitative approach will be complimented by a consideration of a range of qualitative methods.

III. Applied areas. One of the most appealing and promising aspects of research in humour and laughter is the breadth of potential applications. This strand aims to promote a synthesis between practice and research which will result in mutual betefits. Participants will be introduced to a variety of fields including humor and laughter in relationships, health and therapy, and also the emerging field of computational humor.

Download the provisional syllabus for the course.
Download the provisional lecture contents.

b) Colloquium

The colloquium part of the summer school will take place early in the week. This is where participants may present their planned or finished research or ideas on how to implement and use humour in applied settings, in any form they like. Time will be allocated to present a talk or poster followed by feedback from speakers and the group and general discussion. Participants wanting to present in the colloquium are requested to fill in a form with the title of the talk and an abstract of no more than 200 words. They are encouraged to bring material for prior consultation and distribution. This could be a manuscript describing finished research, but also general or specific plans for a humour study and the course can be used for feedback on the overall plan, design etc of their study.

Teaching faculty

  • Rod Martin, University of Western Ontario, Canada
  • Willibald Ruch, Queens University of Belfast
  • Rüdiger Hasenöhrl, University of Hertfordshire, U.K.
  • Jackie Reilly, Queens University of Belfast
  • Graeme Ritchie, University of Edinburgh, U.K.
  • and further guest teachers (to be announced)

About the Speakers

Rod. A Martin completed his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Waterloo, Canada, in 1984. Since then, he has been a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, where he has served as director of the clinical psychology program for the past 10 years. He has published over 20 journal articles and book chapters on the psychology of humor, and has co-authored a book on humor as a moderator of life stress. His primary interest in the field of humor research has been the role of humor in coping with stress and relations between humor, laughter, and physical and psychological health and well-being. Early in his career, he developed two self-report scales for measuring aspects of sense of humor, the Coping Humor Scale, and the Situational Humor Response Questionnaire, which have been widely used by researchers. His recent research has focused on distinguishing between forms of humor expression that are beneficial to psychological health and uses of humor that may be detrimental to well-being and social relationships. He is a member of the board of directors of the International Society for Humor Studies and also serves on the editorial board of Humor: International Journal of Humor Research. He is married and has three adult children.

Willibald Ruch, 2002 president of the International Society of Humour Studies (ISHS), recently moved to the School of Psychology at Queen's University. He received his PhD from the University of Graz, Austria in 1980 and later worked at the University of Düsseldorf, in Germany, where he is a professor of Psychology. Between 1992 and 1998 he held a Heisenberg-fellowship awarded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft-DFG (German Research Foundation) which he devoted to a study of the sense of humour. The psychology of humour, laughter and cheerfulness has been a focal point throughout his career and he has authored about 50 journal articles and book chapters on the subject and constructed several humour tests. He is a member of the editorial board of HUMOR--International Journal of Humor Research and co-editor of the Humor Research monograph series. Recently he edited and contributed several chapters to "The Sense of Humour: Explorations of a personality characteristic." Throughout his work his aim has been to weave humour with adjacent fields of inquiry while his interest in humour and laughter focus primarily on the definition and measurement of the sense of humour, deriving and validating a taxonomy of jokes and cartoons, the role of emotion, mood temperament in humour, the study of the facial expression in smiling and laughter, and more recently, the relationship between humour, laughter and health. He is webmaster of the ISHS-website and of the Humor Research website.

Dr Rüdiger Hasenöhrl is a Senior Lecturer in Biological Psychology at the Psychology Department of the University of Hertfordshire. He has recently moved to the Department from the University of Düsseldorf (Germany), where he worked at the Institute of Physiological Psychology. He received his PhD in 1992 and, after Habilitation in 2000, awarded the Venia legendi for Psychology by the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Düsseldorf. Dr Hasenöhrl is interested in the relationship between brain structure/function and psychological variables, such as learning, memory and reinforcement. His present research is devoted to the analysis of the neuroanatomical and neurochemical mechanisms of emotional behaviours.

Dr Jackie Reilly has been a lecturer in the School of Psychology at Queen's University since 1998, having been awarded her PhD in 1997. She has research interests in the general areas of gender, health (both physical and mental) and work and has published journal articles and book chapters in these areas. However the focus of much of her research is the application of qualitative methodologies in a variety of contexts. She has developed an interest in the relationships between humour and health and also the role of humour in relation to gender.

Graeme Ritchie studied pure mathematics at the University of Dundee and theoretical linguistics at the University of Essex before obtaining his PhD (in computational linguistics) from the University of Edinburgh in 1977. Since 1983 he has been a member of academic staff at the University of Edinburgh, where he is currently a senior lecturer in the Division of Informatics. He has worked in artificial intelligence and natural language processing since 1973, publishing two books and over fifty papers. His research into humour began in 1993 with the supervision of a pioneering doctoral thesis on computational humour. Since then, he has been developing a rigorous framework for analysing verbally expressed humour, and this will be the subject of a book to be published in 2003. During academic year 2001-2002, he holds a Leverhulme Research Fellowship on "Linguistic Modelling of Humour".













Introduction to humour research

Evolution of facial expression


Qualitative research methods for the study of humour & laughter

Theories of humour-II

What is a sense of humour and how has it been studied?

Computational approaches to humour

What is humour? History and teminology

Measurement of facial expression: FACS

Qualitative research methods for the study of humour & laughter

Humour, laughter & the brain-I: Basic brain mechanisms

What is a sense of humour and how has it been studied?

Humour, marriage, and other intimate relationships

Approaches to a taxonomy of humour

Morphology and dynamics of smiling & laughter

Theories of humour-I

Humour, laughter & the brain-II: Neurobiology of humour

The General Theory of Verbal Humour

Humour in psychotherapy













How to test the Humour & health relationship?






The analysis of verbally expressed humour

Survey of instruments for the assessment of Sense of humour



Research on humour, laughter & physical health

Appreciation of humour: taxonomies

Developing a new Humour Questionnaire:



Humour, stress & coping

Humour appreciation & personality

example of the Humour style Questionnaire



Note. Contents and timetable may differ from what is given.


Accommodation & Catering

Participants will have the opportunity to arrange accommodation in the University's Elms Halls of Residence in advance. (Costs will be app. 20 Pounds). Alternatively we can supply details of nearby hotels and guest houses on request. Queen's University and the School of Psychology are located in an area with lots of restaurants and dining places (a list and map will be handed out at the beginning). It is assumed that participants will want to explore the culinary scene themselves and no meal will be arranged except for breakfast. Those who plan to come earlier or stay longer may book a room in the Elms Halls of Residence. Please let us know in time whether you need extra accommodation.


to be announced.


Participation fee will be £350 per person and £250 for students.


Registration for the Summer School can be done on-line at .

Alternatively you can download a copy of the registration form from the above web address and send your completed form to Jackie Reilly, whose contact details are listed below. Your registration will be acknowledged by e-mail within three working days.

Completed registration details should be returned by Monday 15 of April 2002. (Applications received after this date will only be considered if places are available).

Successful applicants will be informed shortly after this date and informed of the processes available for payment of fees. Course fees and any accommodation fees should be forwarded by Friday 30 April 2001.


Contact address

Dr. Willibald Ruch
School of Psychology
Queen's University of Belfast
Belfast BT7 1NN
N. Ireland, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 28 9027 4174 (office)
Fax: +44 (0) 28 90664144

Dr. Jackie Reilly
School of Psychology
Queen's University of Belfast
Belfast BT7 1NN
N. Ireland, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 28 9027 4284 (office)
Tel: +44 (0) 28 9027 5445 (General office)
fax: +44 (0) 28 90664144

This summer school is endorsed by the International Society of Humour Studies (ISHS)

(Attention: if you plan to attend the ISHS conference in Forli afterwards, there is a very inexpensive connection to Bologna via Dublin with Ryan-air)


Last years summer school (1st International Summer School and Colloquium on Humour and Laughter: Theory, Research and Applications)

Information on the first Summer School (syllabus, programme, report, etc.) can be found here:


  • Video based on Summer School 2001
    Dutch TV reported on it in a 25 mins science programme called "Northern Lights".
  • Instructions on how to view the video
    • Get REAL PLAYER (downloadable for free at
    • Then click here.
    • Then you will see the following:
      On the left it says "video" and there is a pic of a baby. Below there is
      • Bekijk de Noorderlicht-aflevering
        Voor de Grap, 6 september
        2001 (breedband)s

        Bekijk de Noorderlicht-aflevering
        Voor de Grap, 6 september
        2001 (smalband)

      Either one is fine....the upper gives a larger frame the lower one a smaller (but is faster).

    • If you click on either of them it starts the video.

Research Meeting "The future of humour research"

(more to come soon, see here meanwhile)


Willibald Ruch
Jackie Reilly
Queens University Belfast

Last updated: Feb 12, 2002

visitors since Feb 12, 2002