Detecting affiliation in colaughter across 24 societies

Gregory A. Bryant*, Daniel M.T. Fessler, Riccardo Fusaroli, Edward Clint, Lene Aaroe, Coren L. Apicella, Michael Bang Petersen, Shaneikiah T. Bickham, Alexander Bolyanatz, Brenda Chavez, Delphine De Smet, Cinthya Diaz, Jana Fančovičova, Michal Fux, Paulina Giraldo-Perez, Anning Hu, Shanmukh V. Kamble, Tatsuya Kameda, Norman P. Li, Francesca R. LubertiPavol Prokop, Katinka Quintelier, Brooke A. Scelza, Hyun Jung Shin, Montserrat Soler, Stefan Stieger, Wataru Toyokawa, Ellis A. Van Den Hende, Hugo Viciana-Asensio, Saliha Elif Yildizhan, Jose C. Yong, Tessa Yuditha, Yi Zhou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Laughter is a nonverbal vocal expression that often communicates positive affect and cooperative intent in humans. Temporally coincident laughter occurringwithin groups is a potentially rich cue of affiliation to overhearers. We examined listeners judgments of affiliation based on brief, decontextualized instances of colaughter between either established friends or recently acquainted strangers. In a sample of 966 participants from 24 societies, people reliably distinguished friends from strangers with an accuracy of 53-67%. Acoustic analyses of the individual laughter segments revealed that, across cultures, listeners judgments were consistently predicted by voicing dynamics, suggesting perceptual sensitivity to emotionally triggered spontaneous production. Colaughter affords rapid and accurate appraisals of affiliation that transcend cultural and linguistic boundaries, and may constitute a universal means of signaling cooperative relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4682-4687
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume113
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cooperation
  • Cross-cultural
  • Laughter
  • Signaling
  • Vocalization

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