This article synthesizes a broad body of research in order to propose a concise overview of how laughter functions as a heuristic for social situations and cultural artifacts. It argues that all laughter is indelibly associated with positivity. Phenomena traditionally interpreted as contradicting this claim – such as malicious laughter and pathological laughter – only serve to reinforce an understanding we are born with which connects laughter to positivity. I argue that laughter is perceived as positive or otherwise because context either reinforces an innate understanding that links laughter to positivity, or else forces that understanding into some degree of contradiction. Either way, the link is never dissolved. Basing its claims on evolutionary theory and emotion research, and informed by the two-thousand-plus-year history of the philosophy of humor, this study is the first to systematically discuss those aspects of laughter that transcend context and subject.
|Early online date||Nov 18 2016|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|