Motivation and emotion/Book/2016/Smiling, laughter, and happiness

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Smiling, laughter, and happiness:
What is the effect of smiling and laughter on happiness?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Happiness has been seen as one of; if not the most sort after aspects of the human experience, This belief has been held since Greek antiquity when philosophers such as Aristotle and Aristippus said that more than anything human beings seek pleasure(e.g. Happiness). But what is happiness? How does it affect us? Is it physically observable? Why does it exist? but other questions which are just as important are: what are an emotions affect? how do we humans find happiness? what actions lead to feelings of happiness? in this chapter we will explore these questions. A short answer to some of these questions is that; Happiness has been found to be effected by several different aspects; one of the most controllable aspects is social interactions; this is through the use of smiling and laughter; because of this we will explore how actions such as laughter and smiling express our happiness, and how they can be used to influence our immediate and long term happiness; these points will be further explored to give a more in depth understand and and answer to the questions.(rewrite fix)

Happiness[edit | edit source]

What is Happiness?[edit | edit source]

Happiness or joy or what every name used, is one of the fundamental emotion that make up part of the human experience (Nettle, 2005). Happiness is one of several emotions that have been Identified and agreed upon by the majority of the academic community, these emotions include but are not limited to happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust (Reeve, 2015)(g fix). Due to happiness being an idea it is hard to directly define it down to its base level; this due to its subjectivity because almost every person feels happiness in different way. in general happiness is the emotion that has been most associated with pleasure and feeling good (Nettle, 2005).(g fix)Happiness is best defined by comparing it to its opposite emotion: which (missing fix) is usually expressed in literature as sadness(Argyle, 2013); this comparison allows for researchers and lay people to observe the ill affect of a person not having healthy level of happiness. Happiness is expressed in many ways but common features that are observable and are therefore able to be associated with happiness are a sense of enthusiasm; outgoingness; extroversion and optimism. Sadness on the other hand has been associated with feelings of lethargy, withdrawnness and introversion; along with a sense of pessimism (Reeve, 2015). The ability to compare the to opposing features that are associated with the emotions allows the emotions to be better conceptualised and understood, by allowing for the comparison it gives the emotions more structure and makes them less subjective.

Physiology of Happiness[edit | edit source]

Like other fundamental emotions happiness has several brain structures and neural groupings that have been associated with experiencing this emotion. The majority of these areas are part of the Limbic system, which includes the Amygdala, Thalamus, Hypothalamus, and Hippocampus which all have to do with varying dimensions of higher functioning (Jatupaiboon, Pan-Ngum, & Israsena, 2013).

In a meta-analysis by Vytal and Hamann (2010) of 83 neurological imaging(spelling fix) studies, that examined the neural activation associated with specific emotional states(g fix),The meta-analysis chose studies that used explicit emotional elicitation task(g fix), which are emotionally arousing stimuli or emotional facial expressions, which were used to asses or elicit emotional states among the participants. The study found that happiness’s activated several significant clusters of neurons, the largest was found neural activation was found in the centered right superior Temporal Gyrus.

Another important physiological part of happiness is the neurotransmitter dopamine; (g fix) it is used along with other neurotransmitters to create feelings of euphoria and pleasure (Kringelbach & Berridge, 2009). Dopamine travels from the midbrain region to the Prefrontal Cortex along the Corpus Striatum, this neuron pathway is referred to as the brain's (g fix) reward system (Grinde, 2005), and this area was found to be more reactive in participants with higher perceived happiness. Physiologically happiness like all emotions it is difficult to conclusively state which exact chemicals or physical structures are the basis (spelling fix) of happiness, however science has been able to give a generalised view of what neurotransmitters and approximate areas of the brain which are able to (g fix) influence happiness.

Why does happiness occur?[edit | edit source]

Happiness like the other fundamental emotions have been explored through different perspectives in psychology and other sciences, one perspective that is attempted to explain the foundation of happiness is evolutionary perspective (Nesse, 1990). Evolutionary psychologists believe that happiness (g fix) has a specific or generalised role in improving early mammal or human chances of survival in a continuously changing environment. Evolutionary theory puts forward that happiness increases survival by increasing the likelihood (spelling fix) of reproduction through the attraction of a mate or creating attachment to a partner to increase survival of offspring (huh fix) (Nesse, 1990). This is supported because humans generally have innate (spelling fix) physical desires such as(huh fix) sex drive; sex drive is supported by attracting a mate because expressions of happiness were found to be universally attractive across both sexes (Schmidt, Levenstein, & Ambadar, 2012). Another proposed reason for happiness from an evolutionary perspective is that(g fix) humans having happiness as a base emotion is that unlike the other emotions happiness (g fix) is seen as being more of a tool of persuasion or reward to encourage desirable behaviours (Nesse, 1990). Happiness can be elicited by many activities such as: success (spelling fix) in a task, gaining something that is wanted e.g. a job or respect of a colleague, affection or anything that has a basis (spelling fix) in pleasure; for most people things that result in happiness as a reward are seen as socially or culturally desirable, which increase the likelihood of a person following social norms (missing fix).

What are the Benefits of Happiness?[edit | edit source]

Happiness has several physical, mental and social benefits, it has also been shown that healthiness has been directly correlated (g fix) with a person’s happiness. Several research studies observed a significant correlation between physical health benefits and happiness (Post, 2005); (g fix) these studies correlated that happy people are more likely to be healthy; (g fix) this could be that happy people have higher levels of energy then people who are sadder or it could be that higher energy people are happier (Post, 2005).

Physical health benefits are not only linked to a person’s amount of energy. (g fix) In a study by Barak (2006) of 336 people and the effect of positive emotions (g fix) (happiness) and the participant's (g fix) likelihood of catching a cold after being exposed in a laboratory setting; (g fix)it was found that participants who showed higher levels of positive emotions were significantly less likely to fall ill after exposure to the viruses than (g fix) their (spelling fix) less positive peers. This study shows a correlation between happiness and a person’s ability to cope with common illnesses. Happiness and positive outlook have both been linked to lower rates of stroke among elderly and a decrease in re-hospitalisation for coronary problems (Cohen, & Pressman, 2006). Happiness and positive affect have also been linked with better sleep quality, larger amounts of(g fix) exercise, as well as lower levels of stress hormones (Lightsey, O. R. (1994); which is also associated with better mental health.

Happiness has also been linked to higher levels of mental and emotional stability (Hills & Argyle, 2001). (g fix) Happiness is also associated with an increase in supportive relationships and effective coping mechanisms, along with mental health in general (g fix) (Grinde, 2005). Happiness is also used as a means to counter stress, anxiety and depression (Reeve, 2015). This also has an overall affect on a persons social success.

Happiness has a been found to have a considerable affect on social success; (g fix) it has also been found that social ability has a significant affect on people's (g fix) happiness (Grinde, 2005). Happiness has been correlated with several variables that are seen as indicators of success such as work life and income (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005). People who are seen as happy have been found to secure job interviews and also are assessed more positively during interviews (Lyubomirsky, et al., 2005). In a meta analysis by Connolly and Viswesvaran (2000) it was also found that positive affectivity (happiness)was highly correlated with job satisfaction, job satisfaction was not as highly correlated with negative affect (spelling fix) (sadness). It was also found that people with happy dispositions were more likely to be (missing fix)rated positively by supervisors than employees (spelling fix) with more morbid dispositions (Lyubomirsky, et al., 2005; Requena, 1995). It was also found that supervisors and managers with happier dispositions had a higher likelihood of having employees (spelling fix) who are happier and have higher job satisfaction (Lyubomirsky, et al., 2005). (g fix) Happiness has also been associated with increased work place cohesion (Holmes, & Marra, 2002); (g fix)this is important because higher happiness and job satisfaction has been linked to higher productivity and have decreased absenteeism (Lyubomirsky, et al., 2005). Another aspect of success was income; happiness and income have been correlated in several studies(Lyubomirsky, et al., 2005; Requena, 1995). Happiness has been associated with success in the work place; it is associated with increases in job satisfaction work place cohesion and leadership effectiveness; along with happiness being correlated with higher incomes (Lyubomirsky, et al., 2005)(f fix), happiness also has a large affect on other social areas.

Happiness has been linked to several positive social outcomes (Lyubomirsky, et al., 2005). It has been correlated that happiness is directly proportional to the number of friends a person has (Requena, 1995). Steady friendships are associated with happiness, and are a good predictor of general well being (Lyubomirsky, et al., 2005; Pinquart & Sörensen, 2000).(g fix)happiness has been found to have an effect on romantic relationships. People who express happiness are seen as more attractive than people expressing other emotions (Schmidt, Levenstein, & Ambadar, 2012).When it comes to relationships people with happy dispositions are statistically more likely to get married in the following 4 years then less happy peers(Argyle, 2013).It was also found that people who scored one standard deviation higher on a happiness scale were 1.5 times as likely to get married then there average peers(Marks & Fleming, 1999). Happiness has also been linked to the amount a person volunteers or how altruistic that person is (Post, 2005).As shown there are many positive outcomes that come from a person being happy or build to a person being happy; (g fix) many of which require a person showing their happiness and joy to others which means that the functions of expressing happiness are extremely important, two of the most common ways a person can express happiness is through smiling and laughter.

Smiling and Laughter[edit | edit source]

Figure 2. Smiling. Smiling is one of the most fundamental ways that people express their happiness towards others

What is a Smile?[edit | edit source]

Smiling is one of the first expressions that a humans are (g fix) able to express or recognise (Haviland & Lelwica, 1987), It is one of the fundamental ways that humans express happiness towards other people (Kraut & Johnston, 1979). Smiling and other facial changes have been used to observe emotions in several studies (Kanade, Cohn, & Tian, 2000; Morris, et al., 1998) the reason for this is because observation is one of the easiest and most effective means of assessing emotion (Kraut & Johnston, 1979). (g fix) Smiling is also an important expression (missing fix) due to it being a universal accepted expression of happiness and is not culturally specific (Haviland & Lelwica, 1987). Smiling has been linked to the likelihood of others (g fix) enjoying an interaction and if smiling is continued after a friendship is formed it can be used to strengthen the relationship (Morris, et al., 1998; Reeve, 2015). Smiling is also important because it is associated with a persons likability.

Smiling has been positively linked to a person’s level of likability (Kraut & Johnston, 1979), smiling is used as a means to transmit that a person is enjoying activities or actions (Morris, et al., 1998). Studies have also found that people are seen as more trustworthy while smiling (Argyle, 2013), it has also been shown that people are also found to be considered more interesting while smiling(Langsdorf, Izard, Rayias, & Hembree, 1983), it is also an indicator of a person’s arousal coursed by stimuli(Argyle, 2013). Smiling has also been found to be somewhat contagious and is a useful way in which leaders can improve a group’s morale and happiness (Cherulnik, Donley, Wiewel, & Miller, 2001). Smiling is also used to help improve others negative emotions (Keltner, & Bonanno, 1997).

Smiling is also more likely to be exhibited for social reasons: In a study by Fridlund (1991)of university undergraduates it was found that participants were significantly more likely to laugh or smile while (g fix) with a group, than (g fix) participants that were alone (g fix) but were told that others were watching the video next door. The unaccompanied group that was told that others were watching the same video were found to smile significantly more than participants who were unaccompanied and were informed that no one else was watching the same video. This shows that happiness is more likely to be exhibited while in a group or even while believing oneself is part of a group than (g fix) alone. The study shows that outward expressions of happiness are made to affect others just as much as they are made to affect a person themselves. Smiling is the fundamental way humans express happiness and it is the universal expression of happiness, (g fix)is a significant indicator of how a person is feeling: (g fix) it indicates happiness and enjoyment of situations or particular stimuli.

Figure 3. Laughter is another significant indicator of happiness.

What is Laughter?[edit | edit source]

Laughter is another significant indicator of happiness (g fix) it has many similarities to smiling, (g fix) some scholars have referred to laughter as a(g fix) more advanced version of expressing happiness (Kraut & Johnston, 1979). Just like smiling (g fix) laughter is a universally (g fix) excepted expression of happiness and enjoyment. (g fix) the act of laughing is similar to smiling but also contains audible noises and increased facial and body movements (Kraut & Johnston, 1979). Laughter shows happiness and enjoyment but it also has the added effect of being a coping mechanism:(g fix) this helps relieve stress and anxiety(Ostrower, 2015). Laughter (g fix) and smiling are alike because they are both used to improve people’s negative moods (Keltner, & Bonanno, 1997); (g fix) it is also used to increase social relationships (Keltner, & Bonanno, 1997). Laughter is used to create social cohesion among groups e.g. work places (Holmes, & Marra, 2002). Laughter (g fix) is similar to smiling in that it is able to increase a person’s likability (Kraut & Johnston, 1979). Laughter is able to express higher levels of enjoyment and arousal than (g fix)smiling by its self; (g fix) it is also able to relieve negative emotions. Like smiling it can increase social acceptability and increase the strength of relationships (Holmes, & Marra, 2002)(f fix).

Social implications and applications of Smiling, Laughter and Happiness[edit | edit source]

Happiness is not only an internal experience and is therefore not affected solely by internal factors. There are many factors that make up happiness and just as many that contribute to a person’s happiness. A factor that has a considerable effect on a person’s happiness is that of a person’s friendships, romantic relationships, workplace achievement, and income; along with a person’s overall social success (f fix). As discussed above (g fix)people who have happy dispositions are not only more likely to succeed (spelling fix) in both workplaces but also in social relationship and vice versa so for a person to be able to succeed they have to be able to not only be happy, they have to be able to express it in a socially acceptable way.

As discussed above the most universally excepted (g fix) ways to express happiness is to smile or to laugh. (g fix) Smiling and laughing have been shown to be more tuned to social interaction and is important tool in socialising. Without the ability to express there feelings of happiness through the use of smiling or laughing people would isolate themselves and would also be limited in their way of expressing happiness to others; (g fix) this would begin to affect (g fix) the way the person (g fix) is viewed socially.

Happy dispositions are build to affect (g fix) others; (g fix) if a leader was unable to show happiness through smiling or laughter it would limit their ability to be viewed (missing fix) in a socially positive manner and would impact the feelings formed about them by those under them or by peers; (g fix) this in turn can affect how effective and productive the group becomes. Smiling and laughter are significant tools when interacting socially and being socially successful, because they are universally accepted (g fix) ways of expressing happiness; they have significant effect on happiness: (g fix) due to its dependence on social success and interaction to increase overall happiness.

An example of a way that smiling and laughter can be used to increase your over all happiness; is in social interactions: when encountering a person for the first time smile at them and laugh when they make a joke; this will increase your likability and trustworthiness and if the person you are encountering is from the opposite sex or Homosexual this will increase how attractive the person sees you. This increase in social acceptance will elicit happiness and the more you are able to successfully interact the larger the improvement in your over all happiness.

Facial Feedback Hypothesis[edit | edit source]

Besides the social effects that physical presentations of happiness can have on others, there is another theory that has been constructed around a person’s (missing fix) expressions and their affect on the person's overall emotional state ;(g fix) this theory is the Facial Feedback Hypothesis (FFH). According to the (missing fix) Facial Feedback Hypothesis emotions can be affected by three things: (g fix) the first is the movement of the facial muscles, secondly changes to facial temperature, and thirdly changes in glandular activity in the facial tissue (Reeve, 2015). (g fix) FFH hypothesises this occurs because the body reacts first and then cognitive processes take over and can either continue by activating other bodily functions related to an emotion or by not continuing the reaction on other parts of the body; which stops the reaction when it first reaches the brain(Reeve, 2015).

This hypothesis has been tested several times and has found to have a statistically significant effect on the participant's (g fix) emotions; however the effect it had was minimal and was not able to Affect (g fix) emotional states completely (Strack, Martin, & Stepper, 1988). (g fix) This form of emotional manipulation is able to finely alter emotional states but is not able to completely alter a person’s entire emotional state; (g fix) however it can be used to spike emotional state that are already being expressed or when the body is in a neutral state(Reeve, 2015)(f fix).

The use of FFH could be used to positively affect a person's emotional states; a example of a time this could be used is when you are feeling boredom or sitting around with no stimuli eliciting either a positive or negative emotion; by smile it can start to improve your current emotional state making you happier.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Happiness is the emotion that is strongly associated with positives, such as pleasure. Happiness in everyday life can have (g fix) significant positive effects; (g fix) it helps with physical and mental health by decreasing stress and improve immune response; the affect of decreasing stress and improve the immune system can lead to an over all increase in your happiness. From a social perspective happiness plays a critical part in improving interactions and likability; and can even help in friendship and romantic relationships. Happiness is able to increase output and job satisfaction no matter a person’s position or role in a workplace; it is also linked to higher incomes. The best way to express happiness in social situations is to smile and laugh at socially appropriate stimuli and situations; (g fix) smiling and laughter are found to be attractive to others and can be used to relieve stress. But the primary goal of smiling and laughter are to express happiness and to elicit desired responses from others. Happiness has been found to be proportional to social success. Happiness can be an extremely complicated subject due to its subjectivity and the many ways it can be influenced (vague fix)and is one area that most people would like to improve upon. Happiness can be easily influenced; one of the most effective ways to increase immediate happiness is through laughter: this is due to FFH and the the general effect of laughter on stress. But to increase overall happiness; one of the most effective was is through an increase in smiling and laughter in social situations; this increases a person's (g fix) social success and satisfaction in social interactions. The improvement in social areas that occurs due to a person increasing smiling and laughter will increase a persons over all happiness; because it can increase satisfaction in several key areas: work, social, and romantic relationships; along with several other areas.

Quiz questions[edit | edit source]

Here are some example quiz questions - choose the correct answers and click "Submit":

1 which of the following brain structures is most associated with happiness?

Parietal Lobe
Limbic system
The Cerebellum

2 which of the following is part of the Limbic system?

Parietal Lobe
The Cerebellum
Temporal Lobe

3 What Neurotransmitter is most communally associated with pleasure?.


4 which of the following is one of the effects of happiness on a person physically?.

improved sleep quality
degrades sleep quality
decrease immune response
increase re-hospitalisation

5 Can smiling and laughter have an immediate affect on a person emotionally?.

yes, due to facial feedback
no, due to facial feedback

See also[edit | edit source]

book Chapters[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Argyle, M. (2013). The psychology of happiness. New York, NY: Routledge.

Barak, Y. (2006). The immune system and happiness. Autoimmunity Reviews, 5(8), 523-527. doi:10.1016/j.autrev.2006.02.010

Cherulnik, P. D., Donley, K. A., Wiewel, T. S. R., & Miller, S. R. (2001). Charisma is contagious: The effect of leaders' charisma on observers' Affect1. Journal of AppliedSocialPsychology, 31(10), 2149-2159. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2001.tb00167.x

Cohen, S., & Pressman, S. D. (2006). Positive affect and health. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(3), 122-125. doi:10.1097/

Connolly, J. J., & Viswesvaran, C. (2000). The role of affectivity in job satisfaction: A meta analysis. Personality and Individual Differences, 29(2), 265-281. doi:10.1016/S01918869(99)00192-0

Fridlund, A. J. (1991). Sociality of solitary smiling: Potentiation by an implicitaudience.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60(2), 229-240.doi:10.1037/0022-3514.60.2.229

Haviland, J. M., & Lelwica, M. (1987). The induced affect response: 10-week-old infants'responses to three emotion expressions. Developmental Psychology, 23(1), 97-104.doi:10.1037/0012-1649.23.1.97

Hills, P., & Argyle, M. (2001). Emotional stability as a major dimension of happiness.Personality and Individual Differences, 31(8), 1357-1364. doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(00)00229-4

Holmes, J., & Marra, M. (2002). Having a laugh at work: How humour contributes to workplace culture. Journal of Pragmatics, 34(12), 1683-1710. doi:10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00032-2

Jatupaiboon, N., Pan-Ngum, S., & Israsena, P. (2013). Real-time EEG-based happiness detection system. The Scientific World Journal, 2013, 1-12. doi:10.1155/2013/618649

Kanade, T., Cohn, J. F., & Tian, Y. (2000). Comprehensive database for facial expression analysis. Paper presented at the 46-53. doi:10.1109/AFGR.2000.840611

Keltner, D., & Bonanno, G. A. (1997). A study of laughter and dissociation: Distinct correlates of laughter and smiling during bereavement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(4), 687-702. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.73.4.687

Kraut, R. E., & Johnston, R. E. (1979). Social and emotional messages of smiling: An ethological approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(9), 1539-1553. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.37.9.1539

Kringelbach, M. L., & Berridge, K. C. (2009). Towards a functional neuroanatomy of pleasure and happiness. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13(11), 479-487. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2009.08.006

Langsdorf, P., Izard, C. E., Rayias, M., & Hembree, E. A. (1983). Interest expression, visual fixation, and heart rate changes in 2- and 8-month-old infants. Developmental Psychology,19(3), 375-386. doi:10.1037//0012-1649.19.3.375

Lightsey, O. R. (1994). "thinking positive" as a stress buffer: The role of positive automatic cognitions in depression and happiness. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 41(3), 325-334. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.41.3.325

Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131(6), 803-855. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.131.6.803

Marks, G. N., & Fleming, N. (1999). Influences and consequences of well-being among australian young people: 1980-1995. Social Indicators Research,46(3), 301-323. doi:10.1023/A:1006928507272

Morris, J. S., Friston, K. J., Büchel, C., Frith, C. D., Young, A. W., Calder, A. J., & Dolan, R. J. (1998). A neuromodulatory role for the human amygdala in processing emotional facial expressions. Brain, 121(1), 47-57. doi:10.1093/brain/121.1.47

Ostrower, C. (2015). Humor as a defense mechanism during the holocaust. Interpretation-a Journal of Bible and Theology, 69(2), 183-195. doi:10.1177/0020964314564830

Nesse, R. M. (1990). Evolutionary explanations of emotions. Human Nature, 1(3), 261-289. doi:10.1007/BF02733986

Pinquart, M., & Sörensen, S. (2000). Influences of socioeconomic status, social network, and competence on subjective well-being in later life: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging, 15(2), 187-224. doi:10.1037//0882-7974.15.2.187

Post, S. G. (2005). Altruism, happiness, and health: It's good to be good. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 12(2), 66-77. doi:10.1207/s15327558ijbm1202_4

Nettle, D. (2005). Happiness: The science behind your smile. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Requena, F. (1995). Friendship and subjective well-being in spain: A cross-national comparison with the united states. Social Indicators Research, 35(3), 271-288. doi:10.1007/BF01079161

Reeve, J. (2015). Understanding motivation and emotion (Sixth ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Schmidt, K., Levenstein, R., & Ambadar, Z. (2012). Intensity of smiling and attractiveness as facial signals of trustworthiness in women. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 114(3), 964-978. doi:10.2466/07.09.21.PMS.114.3.964-978

Schwarz, N., Dr. phil, Kahneman, D., & Diener, E. (1999). Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Strack, F., Martin, L. L., & Stepper, S. (1988). Inhibiting and facilitating conditions of the human smile: A nonobtrusive test of the facial feedback hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(5), 768-777. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.54.5.768

Vytal, K., & Hamann, S. (2010). Neuroimaging support for discrete neural correlates of basic emotions: A voxel-based meta-analysis. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22(12), 2864-2885. doi:10.1162/jocn.2009.21366