Detecting affiliation in colaughter across 24 societies

Gregory A. Bryant, Daniel M. T. Fessler, Riccardo Fusaroli, Edward Clint, Lene Aarøe, Coren L. Apicella, Michael Bang Petersen, Shaneikiah T. Bickham, Alexander Bolyanatz, Brenda Chavez, Delphine De Smet, Cinthya Díaz, Jana Fančovičová, Michal Fux, Paulina Giraldo-Perez, Anning Hu, Shanmukh V. Kamble, Tatsuya Kameda, Norman P. Li, Francesca R. LubertiPavol Prokop, Katinka Quintelier, Brooke A. Scelza, Hyun Jung Shin, Montserrat Soler, Stefan Stieger, Wataru Toyokawa, Ellis A. Van Den Hende, Hugo Viciana-Asensio, Saliha Elif Yildizhan, Jose C. Yong, Tessa Yuditha, Yi Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Human cooperation requires reliable communication about social intentions and alliances. Although laughter is a phylogenetically conserved vocalization linked to affiliative behavior in nonhuman primates, its functions in modern humans are not well understood. We show that judges all around the world, hearing only brief instances of colaughter produced by pairs of American English speakers in real conversations, are able to reliably identify friends and strangers. Participants’ judgments of friendship status were linked to acoustic features of laughs known to be associated with spontaneous production and high arousal. These findings strongly suggest that colaughter is universally perceivable as a reliable indicator of relationship quality, and contribute to our understanding of how nonverbal communicative behavior might have facilitated the evolution of cooperation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4682-4687
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number17
Early online date11 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


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