Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
Laughter is largely considered a social behavior and has been correlated with a number of relationship-relevant outcomes. Yet the majority of the existing research has employed methods that focus specifically on an individual's laughter, while neglecting to address the influence of the surrounding social context. We argue that when a laugh occurs within the presence of another person, as it most often does, whether or not the other person is also laughing (i.e., whether the laugh is shared versus solo) may have tremendous consequences for the pair's relationship. The current studies tested the hypothesis that shared laughter would promote relationship wellbeing via increased positive emotions, decreased negative emotions, and increased perceptions of similarity. A series of online and laboratory studies provide correlational and causal support for these hypotheses. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for future research pertaining to the importance of shared laughter within social contexts.