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Laughter and Smiling, Physiology of

  • By: Sven Svebak
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Smiling and laughter are affective displays. This means they are transitory and most often triggered by some kind of stimulus related to interpersonal communication. In this way acute physiological changes induced by smiling and laughter differ from more enduring bodily effects of sense of humor. A distinction is made between assumptions about physiological processes based on direct observations of expressive behavior and measurements of covert musculoskeletal, respiratory, autonomic, and immunologic, as well as brain, processes related to mirthful laughter.

Inferences Based on Expressive Displays

The pioneering French physiologist Guillaume Duchenne was a contemporary of Charles Darwin and provided him with ideas about facial muscles involved in smiling and other affective displays, as reported in one of Darwin's classic works, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and ...

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