Ezrina, E. V.  & Valian, V.  (2022).  Do bilinguals get the joke?  Humor comprehension in mono- and bilinguals.  Bilingualism:  Language and Cognition.

Abstract: Understanding jokes may differ between mono- and bilinguals because of differences in lexical access; fluency and sense of humor may also be relevant. Three experiments examined English-language joke comprehension in monolingual (n = 91) and bilingual (n = 111) undergraduates, Russian–English bilinguals (n = 39), and MTurk monolinguals (n = 77). Participants rated jokes and non-jokes in English as funny or not funny. We assessed the effects of bilingualism, language dominance, fluency, sense of humor, experience, and motivation on response time (RT) and sensitivity (d′ ) in identifying jokes. Bilingualism predicted neither RT nor d′ in mono- and English-dominant bilingual undergraduates; English fluency predicted d′ . Russians were slower than English-dominant bilinguals but were MORE not less sensitive to humor. MTurk monolinguals were faster than undergraduates and equally sensitive; sense of humor predicted sensitivity. Overall, humor processing is alternately affected by fluency, sense of humor, and motivation, depending on the population. Bilingualism per se is not a factor.