Documenting and Explaining the Common AAB Pattern in Music and Humor: Establishing and Breaking Expectations

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Abstract

The AAB pattern consists of two similar events followed by a third dissimilar event. The prevalence of this pattern in the aesthetic domain may be explained as violation of expectation: A minimum of two iterations is required to establish a repetitive pattern; once established, it is most efficient to promptly violate the expected continuance of the pattern to produce the maximal aesthetic effect. We demonstrate the prevalence of this pattern (in comparison to AB or AAAB) in a representative sample of a variety of musical genres and in a representative sample of repetitive genre of jokes. We also provide experimental evidence that the AAB pattern in jokes is maximally effective in producing a humor response in participants.

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