Flashcards in Lecture 11: Everyday life Deck (23):
Why is it important to study laughter?
It's an everyday phenomenon that is very common. It's unusual, unlike speech and similar to animal calls. Therefore it's important to research why we laugh, the roles of laughter, how this compares to other emotions and whether it has any health benefits.
How often do we laugh?
A study with 80 adults showed that people laugh about 18 times a day. There was a large range of results ranging from 0 to 89.
Discuss the benefits of laughter
Improves the cardiovascular and respiratory system, increases pain threshold, moderates stress, better outlook, positive cognitions, better at coping with stress, decreases cortisol levels and increases well being. However, these findings have contradictory evidence and there is little support about the unique positive effects of laughter.
List 6 theories about humour
Superiority theory, incongruity theory, tension-relief theory, defence mechanism, misattribution, pattern recognition.
Describe the superiority theory
This is the oldest and most widespread theory. Aristotle claimed that you laugh at the misfortune of others which generates a feeling of superiority. The more dignity the individual has (richer/wiser), the more you laugh. This involves malice and is harmful.
Describe the incongruity theory
You laugh at unexpected, illogical or inappropriate outcomes. When something doesn't fit the orderly pattern that we expect. We expect an outcome from one frame, but then the punch line is from another frame, the two unrelated thoughts combined, provide a comic effect.
Outside of the theories, what makes people laugh?
Less than 20% of laughter is in response to jokes or formal efforts. The actual stimulus for laughter is another person.
Describe provine's view: laughter is the oil in the social machine
Borge claims that it's the shortest distance between two people and it maintains social bonds. It's used as acceptance and an invitation for a conversation. It encourages social bonding and shows acceptance as it indicates we are amused. Sense of humour is also related to attractiveness, trust and intimacy. It aids caregiver-child relationships, the parents respond to the laughter and continue, forming an emotional cycle. Laughter also increases cooperation and cohesiveness.
Discuss provine and fisher's study about the social nature of laughter 1989
It involved a self report, the participants reported bed and waking times, episodes of laughing, smiling or talking and social context that they occurred in. Laughter was found to be 30 times as frequent in social situations compared to being on your own. It shows that laughter is used as a form of communication.
Discuss the effects of dubbed laughter
Smyth 1972 found that participants laughed for longer and more frequently when a programme had dubbed laughter. They also found it more amusing.
Is laughter contagious?
Yes. There has been laughter epidemics and mass hysteria. In one case, a school had to close because of it and it then affect adjacent communities and in the end 14 schools closed and 1000 people were affected. It disrupted normal life for 6 months. Laughter is infectious; provine's 1992 study supported this. He found that the majority of participants laughed in response to a laughter box. No one knows why it's contagious. The brain prepares to join in; there is auditory activation and activation in brain regions associated with movement upon hearing laughter, therefore the brain is getting ready to laugh. This s behavioural contagion.
Discuss laughter in conversation
Only 10-20% of pre-laughter comments are humorous. Laughter is usually sprinkled throughout speech, facial expressions, gestures and posture changes. When researching laughter, if you only focus on humour then you will miss the broader and deeper roots of laughter in social communication. However, placement of laughter isn't random.
Describe laughter as part of speech
Provine did another study. He recorded 1200 episodes of naturally occurring laughter and noted the speaker, audience, gender and content. The speakers laugher 46% more than the audience. Female speakers 127% more with a male audience. Females laughed more than males and the audience laughed more to male speakers. 99% of laughter occurred in pauses, laughter rarely interrupts the phrase structure. The phenomenon is very reliable which is surprising as it contrasts the rest of unstructured dialogue. Laughter is only placed lawfully and speech has a priority. Laughter work as punctuation, this is the punctuation effect.
Describe laughter in terms of culture
It's universal. Sauter 2010 found that there was cross cultural recognition of laughter, fear, anger, disgust and sadness. Not many other positive emotions are universal. Laughter isn't only present in humans, ancestral forms of play and laughter are found in rats, dogs and chimps.
Discuss laughter in primates
Laughter can be play induced or tickle induced. Davila-ross 2009 found that juvenile apes showed laughter when tickled but it was different to humans as it's not vocalised, it sounds like breathy panting. There were still similarities which shows that it probably has an evolutionary origin. Chimp laughter only occurs with social contact, unlike humans. Davila then found in 2011 that humans and chimps both show laugh-elicited laughter. This was related to play maintenance which is a communicative advantage. Apes also use laughter to strengthen social bonds.
Discuss laughter in rats
Panksepp did a study and found that rats emit chirps (50Hz) that aren't audible to human ears. They're more frequently emitted by juveniles during play. Tickling causes social bonding and they become conditioned to seek tickling. Rats prefer spending time with those who chirp more.
Discuss the evolutionary heritage of laughter
The capacity to laugh may have preceded the capacity to speak. Neural circuits for laughter occur in ancient regions of the brain. The things that make animals laugh is associated with early infant laughing. Laughter is first present at about 6-8 weeks when tickled. They then develop and begin laughing from more stimuli.
Discuss the development of laughter
People used to focus on children's comprehension of wit and punch lines, which led them to believe that laughter develops at age 6 or 7. It then reduced to 4, then to 18 months. Then they began focusing on non-verbal humour and found it was 6-8 weeks.
What makes babies between 4 and 12 months laugh?
Odd visual stimuli, like covering your face, causes laughter in almost all babies from 8 months. Tactile stimuli, like tickling, causes laughter in all babies from 8 months. Auditory stimuli, like lip popping, causes laughter in almost all babies from 8 months. Socially unexpected stimuli, like peek a boo, causes laughter in only a quarter of 8 month babies and more than half in 24 month old babies. Early laughter is seen as something other than humour, humour is late developing and has precursors like peek a boo present in some infants.
Discuss humour in infants in terms of clowning
Clowning is the repetition of odd actions that have previously led to laughter, in order to re-elicit laughter. Almost all babies exhibit clowning, most do more than once a week at 8 months. Only 69% do it daily. Number of clowning incidences increases with age.
What do we do to make people laugh?
Adults and infants have the same categories but different actions. Odd acts (adults; falling, infants; odd sounds), acting absurd (adults; hitting self, infants; biting), acting profane (adults; violating taboo, infants; showing tummy), mocking (adults; ridiculing, infants; imitating), appearing grotesque (adults; fancy dress, infants; self decoration), acting infantile (adults; pouring water over head, infants; raspberries).
Finish the sentences
When two people laugh at typical things it shows...
When two people laugh at others it shows...
...similar interests and attitudes, mutual understanding and awareness of social patterns.
...an interest in the target of others' laughter, an interest in a participant and emotional relatedness
...an interest in others' amusement, a desire to replicate the humorous reaction, an awareness of attention.