Show simple item record Smith, Moira 2008-07-31T21:43:50Z 2008-07-31T21:43:50Z 2008-07-31T21:43:50Z
dc.description Paper delivered at the 2008 meeting of the International Society for Humor Research, Alcala de Henares, Spain. en
dc.description.abstract Research into the acoustics of laughter shows that it is extremely variable (e.g. Chafe 2007; Ruch and Ekman 2001). However, I am aware of no experimental research into laughter that takes a cross-cultural comparative approach. Anthropologists, for their part, have studied humor rarely (Apte 1985) and actual laughter even less. Nevertheless, there are some ethnographic descriptions of laughter from non-Western cultures that support the existence of culturally-influenced laughter styles. I will illustrate this contention with reference to some ethnographic accounts of laughter and to video clips of Samoan laughter. The paucity of evidence for cultural styles of laughter may be due to contemporary beliefs about the universality and spontaneity of laughter. Assuming that laughter is prior to culture, we do not expect cross-cultural variations and so do not look for them. Since culture is not passed on in the genes, the existence of culturally-patterned forms of laughter suggests that laughter is modulated more often than we tend to think. Much effort has gone into attempts to detect “whether laughter is faked or felt” (Ruch and Ekman 2001), much of it assuming that only spontaneous laughter is genuine and that all controlled laughter is fake. Genuine laughter is important to humor research because it appears to be the only non-obtrusive measure we have of the inner state associated with humor. Culturally-patterned laughter draws attention to the middle ground of genuine laughter that is consciously moderated—that is, laughter that lies between nature and culture. en
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dc.language.iso en_US en
dc.rights.uri en
dc.subject laughter en
dc.subject humor en
dc.title Laughter: Nature or Culture? en
dc.type Working Paper en
dc.type Other en

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