Sancy Suraj
Sancy Suraj

Have you ever remembered an old memory from your past that still makes you smile or laugh?

According to a study, humorous content tends to be recalled at greater rates than non-humorous content. The study assessed semantic elaboration, incongruity resolution, and perceived humour explanations of the memory phenomenon. Participants rated either inspirational or humorous properties of stimuli and recalled photographs, keywords and phrases. Outcomes were most consistent with the perceived humor hypothesis. Participants’ ratings of humour predicted recall performance also when semantic elaboration and incongruity resolution were controlled.

The humour effect is a psychological aspect that makes people remember information better when they perceive that information as humorous. For example, when students are taught a novel concept in a humorous way, such as through a funny story, they’re frequently more likely to remember that concept, compared to if it was taught in a nonhumorous manner. The humour effect can be extremely beneficial, and humour, in general, offers a wide variety of benefits, such as enhanced interest and improved energy levels.

One of the central benefits of humour is that people are usually better able to retain information that they perceive as humorous, as opposed to information that they do not recognise as humorous. This benefit is referred to as the humour effect, extends to several types of memory, like recognition memory, that involves the ability to recognise things that one has encountered and recall memory, that involves the ability to retrieve past information. Furthermore, humour can also improve people’s memory when it comes to verbal information, such as words and even sentences, as well as when it comes to visual information, such as pictures and videos.

The humour effect can be attributed to improved encoding and retrieval of humorous information compared to—and often at the expense of—nonhumorous information, as a result of factors such as increased attention and increased rehearsal.

“It’s not just humour, it’s anger, happiness, lust, sadness, all emotions really. Using emotions will help you remember better.” Says Sancy Suraj.

Sancy knows this all too well. He represented his home country, Singapore, in the World Memory Championships in 2011 in Guangzhou, China. There he memorized, 176 abstract images in 15 minutes, 98 words in 15 minutes, 480 numbers in 60 minutes, 51 names, and faces in 15 minutes, 460 binary digits in 30 minutes.

Sancy also held the world record for the longest colour sequence memorized in 2012. Memorized 160 colours in 5 minutes 20 seconds and recalled all colours in perfect sequence.

Holds the Singapore record for pi memorization and recitation. Memorized & recalled 1505 digits in 30 mins in perfect order. That event was sponsored by RedBull and GNC.

According to Sancy, “When it comes to memorisation, the key is to turn each piece of information that you intend to remember into a visual image. The funnier the visual images are the longer it stays in my memory”

“I have been teaching memory techniques for the past decade and students or training participants with a sense of humour tend to memorise and recall more effectively than those that don’t,” Sancy added

Sancy is right, according to the study “The funny stories would be remembered better incidentally than some stories provoking other positive emotions (admiration and respect). Humorous information is easily recalled, at higher rates than non-humorous information encoded in close temporal proximity (Carlson, 2011; Martin, 2010; Strick et al., 2010). Humorous content could be recalled after a substantial delay, for example about a 15-week delay (Worthen & Deschamps, 2008).”

Another 2013 research study investigated the effect of humour on memory recall while taking into account the mood of the research participants. Participants were split into two groups; neutral and dysphoric group. Both groups saw comical video clips which included displayed words and were asked to recall as many words from the videos. Findings revealed that both groups had a higher recall of words. Therefore, the improved memory due to humour or humour effect can occur not only to individuals in a neutral mood, but also those in the dysphoric mood.

Humor is not only a good for one’s memory but also for life in general. Remember to start using, no pun intended.


Sancy Suraj. Sancy Suraj Singh. Memory Athlete. Singapore Memory Athlete. Sancy Suraj. Sancy Suraj Singh from Singapore. Mr.Sancy.