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The cybernetics of humour: introducing signature analysis to humour research

Faisal L Kadri (, Montreal, Canada.)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 7 September 2015




The purpose of this paper is to introduce signature analysis to humour research. Signature analysis is not widely used in the fields of humanities, the introduction of a new technique will invite comparison with the long standing factor analysis method.


A signature presumes the existence of a model with ideal attributes for the purpose of identification. The model derived from types of humour which describe four types of age dependence. Age dependence contrast sharply with factor analysis which usually ignores age differences in humour. The signatures of four types of humour were calculated from the average scores of all line scores of each type. The Cramer-Rao Bounds were also calculated from the same groups, this defines the centre points and the limits of best type estimators. The age profiles of individual lines were plotted against their type signatures. The error distributions were plotted, with and without offset compensation.


The error plot with offset compensation showed a spike close to the zero error, indicating the existence of significant matching between profiles and signature.

Research limitations/implications

This is an exploratory analysis of responses from 277 participants in an online long survey. More participation is required/hoped for to confirm these findings.

Practical implications

The graphical identification of context in sentences, humorous and non-humorous.


Signature analysis is well known in the physical sciences, the author knows of no application in psychology or humour research.



The author is grateful to Professor C.R. Rao whom the author met in 1996 in an ISSS conference in Slippery Rock, PA. Professor Rao advised and encouraged the author to apply signature analysis to psychology; the author regrets it took so long to heed his advice.


Kadri, F.L. (2015), "The cybernetics of humour: introducing signature analysis to humour research", Kybernetes, Vol. 44 No. 8/9, pp. 1274-1283.



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