Chapter published in:Emotion in Discourse
Edited by J. Lachlan Mackenzie and Laura Alba-Juez
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 302] 2019
► pp. 189–212
Humor and mirth
Emotions, embodied cognition, and sustained humor
The chapter describes a virtuous circle (feedback loop) whereby sustained humor (i.e., humorous exchanges lasting more than three turns) may occur, despite the tendency of speakers to return to the unmarked, serious mode of communication. Since humor is often accompanied by cues of humorous intention/interpretation on the part of both speaker and hearer and given the tendency to mirror one’s interlocutor’s gestures, these cues may be reciprocated (e.g., smiling synchrony). However, due to the facial feedback hypothesis of embodied cognition, producing a facial gesture associated with an emotion leads the subject to experience that emotion. Hence, speakers who mimic the facial cues of humorous intention may end up experiencing the same emotion of mirth that the other speaker is experiencing and this in turn may lead them to have the intention of producing more humor, hence triggering a virtuous circle that may continue for extended periods of time.
Keywords: humor, mirth, emotion, embodied cognition, sustained humor, smiling, laughter, mirror neurons, synchronicity
Published online: 27 March 2019
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