Perspective clashing as a humour mechanism
Misunderstandings, mistaken identities, the lack of information of a character in a story, or the application of a faulty logic by a character in a story are prominent elements of humorous narratives. Perspective clashing is introduced as a categorisation of these humorous instances. Narratives often allow insight into a character’s mind. This insight can reveal a perspective that is incompatible with either the perspective of the recipient or with the perspective of another character in the discourse. If this perspective is additionally consistent within the belief system of the character, such a structure can be conducive to humour. The mental representation of at least two distinguishable perspectives, modelled as mental spaces (Fauconnier 1994), allows the focus on the comparison of these perspectives. One of these perspectives can be recognised as erroneous due to a false committed belief. The detection of this false belief and the notion of having one’s own superior perspective trigger the humorous reaction as an emotional reward. Perspective clashing is additionally suggested to be a crucial element for the humorous purpose of ironic discourse. Ironic utterances communicate an evaluation of two incompatible perspectives: an explicitly pretended perspective, which is attributable to some different entity, and the implicitly communicated correct perspective, which has to be recognised by the recipient of the ironic utterance. Further, perspective clashing can be conducive to a feeling of suspense. The perceived seriousness of the consequences of the faulty perspective might be a determining factor whether the perspective clashing is perceived as humorous or as suspenseful.