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The superiority theory: Plato and a number of others have proposed this in various forms. It suggests that we laugh because a particular person or character has a defect or is at a disadvantage. This occurs for example when a famous person such as Bill Gates gets a pie thrown in his face.
This first one is similar to another theory by Jose Antonio Jaurega. His theory focuses on humans as social creatures. According to Jaurega, we laugh every time we receive information through the sensory channels that breaks the normal code of behaviour. These can be social codes or natural codes. Nature has designed us as social creatures and provided an automatic response when the wrong thing is done so that we signal to the person as well as to others around that something is wrong here.
One of the reasons that we laugh at a clown is because we feel "superior" in the light of their funny antics.
Laughter is a pleasurable experience and again, according to this theory, the process of laughter gives us a reward for providing this signal. The graduating boy, who dresses as a girl, wearing a bra on the outside of his dress at the final graduation is breaking the social codes of the group and we laugh. The clown with overly large shoes is also doing this. Bad grammar or a pie in the face can also bring about this response. This reinforces a feeling of superiority - an "I'm better than you are" response.
While laughter itself is a universal language, the
social gaffs that cause laughter differ from one society to
another. So something that causes hilarity in one culture may not
necessarily result in the same response in another culture. One
problem with this type of response is that it also punishes
the person who breaks the rule. While it may seem OK to signal that
the rule is broken, we may feel sorry for the person who makes a
genuine mistake who is then embarrassed.