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Each week on Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, explore different aspects of human behavior and the brain.

Why Humor Helps Us Conquer Fear

Halloween will soon be upon us, and among the ghouls and goblins walking the streets, you might see someone dressed up an Ebola patient out asking for candy. How will you respond?

Would you buckle over in laughter, or would you be totally offended by this irreverent ode to this devastating threat?

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke discuss why we respond to fear and other uncomfortable and threatening situations with humor.

As it turns out, our responses are about 50 percent genetic. Some of us are just people who choose to laugh at crude or irreverent humor like Ebola costumes, while others find the humor tasteless and offensive.

In addition, things that threaten us tend to connect us as a culture. If we learned to deal with things through laughter, then chances are some may use it as a coping mechanism to fight off fear. If however, we didn't have such a response, we may have trouble eliciting laughter when we are uncomfortable.

In any case, laughing in the face of fear is useful, and we’ve evolved to use it as a strategy to ward off dread.

Rebecca McInroy is an award-winning show creator, host, and executive producer for KUT, KUTX, and KUT.ORG.
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