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Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 1–4 | Cite as

Contagious laughter: Laughter is a sufficient stimulus for laughs and smiles

  • Robert R. Provine
Article

Abstract

The laugh- and/or smile-evoking potency of laughter was evaluated by observing responses of 128 subjects in three undergraduate psychology classes to laugh stimuli produced by a “laugh box.” Subjects recorded whether they laughed and/or smiled during each of 10 trials, each of which consisted of an 18-sec sample of laughter, followed by 42 sec of silence. Most subjects laughed and smiled in response to the first presentation of laughter. However, the polarity of the response changed quickly. By the 10th trial, few subjects laughed and/or smiled, and most found the stimulus “obnoxious.” Although other research has described canned-laughter effects, it did not consider the hypothesis confirmed here, that laughter itself evokes laughter, perhaps by activating a laughter-specific auditory-feature detector. This result is relevant to the neurological basis of social communication, human ethology, and theories of speech production and perception.

Keywords

Speech Perception Experimental Social Psychology Social Facilitation 10th Trial Contagious Yawning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert R. Provine
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Maryland Baltimore CountyBaltimore

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