Antiphonal laughter between friends and strangers

Antiphonal laughter between friends and strangers

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COGNITION AND EMOTION, 2003, 17 (2), 327-340
Antiphonal laughter between friends and strangers
Moria J. Smoski and Jo-Anne Bachorowski Vanderbilt University, Nashville, USA
Drawing from an affect-induction model of laughter (Bachorowski & Owren, 2001; Owren & Bachorowski, 2002), we propose that “antiphonal” laughter—that is, laughter that

occurs during or immediately after a social partner’s laugh—is a behavioural manifestation of a conditioned positive emotional response to another individual’s laugh

acoustics. To test hypotheses concerning the occurrence of antiphonal laughter, participants (n = 148) were tested as part of either same- or mixed-sex friend or

stranger dyads, and were audiorecorded while they played brief games intended to facilitate laugh production. An index of antiphonal laughter for each dyad was derived

using Yule’s Q. Significantly more antiphonal laughter was produced in friend than in stranger dyads, and females in mixed-sex dyads produced more antiphonal laughter

than did their male partners. Antiphonal laughter may therefore reflect a mutually positive stance between social partners, and function to reinforce shared positive

affective experiences.
Laughter is a highly common form of human vocal production that occurs in a wide variety of social circumstances. Given everyday experiences with laughter, it is not

surprising to find that this signal is often theoretically linked to pleasurable states and circumstances. Specific hypotheses in this vein variously consider laughter

to be an expression of positive internal emotional states (e.g., Darwin, 1872/1998; van Hooff, 1972), a signal of playful intent (e.g., Glenn, 1991/1992; Grammer &

Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1990), or a response to humour (e.g., Apte, 1985; Deacon, 1989; Weisfield, 1993). In addition to indicating internal
Correspondence should be addressed to either Moria J. Smoski or Jo-Anne Bachorowski, Department of Psychology, Wilson Hall, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37203,

USA; e-mail: [email protected] or [email protected] Jo-Anne Bachorowski received research support from NSF POWRE and Vanderbilt University Discovery

awards, and Moria Smoski was supported by funds from NIMH grant no. T32MH18921 to Vanderbilt University. Other research support came from NICHD grant no. P30HD15052 to

Van-derbilt University. Paul Yoder and Andrew Tomarken provided valuable statistical consultation, and Andrew Tomarken also made helpful comments on an earlier version

of this manuscript. We acknowledge Michael J. Owren’s enduring contributions to this research. Carolyn Mohler and Bridget McNeil were highly involved with this study’s

inception and execution, and Allison Avery, Andy Overman, Allyson Streeter, Stephanie Stromeyer, and Sharon Weisman assisted with data collection.
C) 2003 Psychology Press Ltd DOI:10.1080/02699930244000336


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