Prof Peter McGraw Research Highlight

Peter McGraw, associate professor in marketing and psychology and director of the Humor Research Lab at the Leeds School of Business shares his insights with NBC reporter Dan Grossman.

What’s so funny at Leeds?

Heading up the Humor Research Lab at the Leeds School of Business, Associate Professor of Marketing and Psychology Peter McGraw boasts a reputation as a top researcher of humor.

What makes things funny? What function does humor serve in business and society? Professor McGraw works to answer these questions with the help of Leeds academics, research partners around the world, improv comedy groups and standup comedians.

Work at the Humor Research Lab is dedicated to understanding the "value of humor,” its benefits and costs, says McGraw. He examines the implications of humor in everyday life including politics, personal relationships, business activities, consumer behavior, public policy, management and marketing.

In 2014, McGraw published The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, advancing his “benign violation theory,” which submits that humor happens when there is the right balance of something that seems both threatening and safe simultaneously.

McGraw has become the go-to behavioral scientist in the country for his unique niche of research. Recently, he was profiled in the Boulder Daily Camera for his work and also cited in a New York Times opinion piece about humor and the presidency. Earlier this year, CNN invited him as an expert in a multi-part series “The History of Comedy.”

Leeds faculty are constantly exploring new topics that impact the workplace, the business world and daily life. Click here to learn more about the implications of biases, the knowledge illusion, discrimination in the workplace, the pitfalls of linear thinking, and so much more.