Humour depends upon a delicate balance of emotional arousal (a threat, hostility, taboo, sexual arousal) and technique (mechanisms rendering a joke safe and socially acceptable - "just in fun").
The origins of humour in non-humans and children will be considered, and the purposes it serves for the individual and for society. Effects of mirth in the brain, therapeutic applications of laughter and the role of comedians in society will also be examined.
Professor Glenn D Wilson
Glenn D. Wilson is one of Britain's best-known psychologists. He has appeared on numerous television and radio programmes and has published more than 150 scientific articles and 33 books. He is an expert on individual differences; social and political attitudes; sexual behaviour, deviation and dysfunction; and psychology applied to the performing arts.
Not one to shy away from contention, his most recent books include: Born Gay: The Psychobiology of Sex Orientation, The Secret of Lasting Love and Psychology for Performing Artists.
He has lectured widely abroad, having been a guest of the Italian Cultural Association, and a visiting professor at California State University, Los Angeles, San Francisco State University, Stanford University, the University of Nevada, Reno and Sierra Nevada College.
Apart from being a professional psychologist, Dr Wilson trained as an opera singer at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and still undertakes professional engagements as an actor, singer and director.
Dr Wilson's series of lectures for 2010/11 will be The Psychology of Love and Sex. He has previously given lectures at Gresham College as the Visiting Gresham Professor of Psychology , where he has proven his skills as a popular and thought-provoking lecturer. His recent series of lectures include The Psychology of Mating and Dating and The Psychology of Performing Arts.