Honors Thesis Paper Presentation

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Presented at the First Annual Berkeley Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference, May 8, 2010

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  • My study is on laughter, which is a complex part of speech with endless functions in human interaction. We are still in the process of trying to better understand its multiple purposes and responses, Psychology is a field which examines the human social realm in ways that are new and revealing. Laughter is something everyone does, and it is so natural that often people don’t realize when they express it. “ Sorry I was late, huh huh” this study strives to examine these laughs in the most intimate of social bonds: couples. So we looked at the number of laughs across different conversation topics to see if there was a relationship between the number of laughs a person did and their levels of positive emotions.
  • So what are positive emotions? Broaden and build, reduce stress, state of relaxation, community outreach, transcend self and personal desires
  • Health- less cortisol, less stress, likely to live longer, less likely to have cardiac disease Families/spouses- secure attachment styles, less likely to divorce, empathy Happy communities- Better workers- broaden-and-build theory
  • Laughter is not a good predictor of positive self emotions when taken within a context. Context matters! We cannot generalize laughter, because it is a unique form of social communication with numerous properties and functions.
  • Honors Thesis Paper Presentation

    1. 1. The Frequency of Laughter in Couples: Predicting Positive Self Emotions Across Conversational Contexts By Ilana Rieser
    2. 2. What Are Positive Emotions <ul><li>Happiness </li></ul><ul><li>Gratitude </li></ul><ul><li>Awe, inspiration </li></ul><ul><li>Compassion, sympathy </li></ul><ul><li>Forgiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Love, friendship </li></ul><ul><li>Kindness </li></ul>
    3. 3. Why Study Positive Emotion? <ul><li>Health- less stress-related diseases </li></ul><ul><li>Happy, healthy families and relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Happy communities- more community engagement, less violence and more peaceful existence </li></ul><ul><li>Better workers- increased cooperation, increased creativity </li></ul>
    4. 4. Why Study Laughter? <ul><li>Form of positive social communication </li></ul><ul><li>Associated with states of relaxation and deep breathing (Provine) </li></ul><ul><li>Voiced laughs builds cooperation, trust and understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Evokes pleasure </li></ul><ul><li>May invoke feelings of detachment from structured reality and allow for insight, relief, and creative thought </li></ul>
    5. 5. My Hypotheses <ul><li>More laughter on average would predict higher reports of positive emotion </li></ul><ul><li>More laughter would be present in more positive contexts (conversations) </li></ul><ul><li>And finally: would increased amounts of laughter still be accurate predictors of positive emotion when examined within given conversations? (as opposed to average number of laughs across all conversations) </li></ul>
    6. 6. Methods <ul><li>69 couples brought into the lab </li></ul><ul><li>6 conversations (3 for each partner): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Love </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sacrifice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Suffering/Sadness </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rated their emotions and their partner’s emotions between conversations: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Positive/negative self, positive/negative other, perceived positive/negative self, perceived positive/negative other </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Coding and laughter identification </li></ul>
    7. 7. Results <ul><li>Love conversation had the most laughs and the highest levels of positive emotions. Sacrifice conversation had the second most, and compassion conversation had the least. </li></ul><ul><li>Number of laughs predicted positive emotions when averaging emotion ratings across contexts. </li></ul><ul><li>Number of laughs only predicted positive self emotions in the compassion conversation </li></ul>
    8. 8. Love conversation had the most laughs and the highest levels of positive emotions. Sacrifice conversation had the second most, and compassion conversation had the least.
    9. 9. Number of loves predicted positive emotions when averaging emotion ratings across contexts.
    10. 10. Number of laughs only predicted positive self emotions in the compassion conversation.
    11. 11. Laughter as a Predictor of Positive Emotion <ul><li>Generally, more laughter indicated stronger positive emotions </li></ul><ul><li>General trend disappeared when examining laughter within the context of the conversation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Number of laughs only predictive of positive emotion in negative suffering/sadness conversation (weak predictive ability) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Laughter is a good predictor of the context of the conversation </li></ul>
    12. 12. Implications and Further Research?
    13. 13. Questions?

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