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High emotional contagion and empathy are associated with enhanced detection of emotional authenticity in laughter

Neves, L; Cordeiro, C; Scott, SK; Castro, SL; Lima, CF; (2018) High emotional contagion and empathy are associated with enhanced detection of emotional authenticity in laughter. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology , 71 (11) pp. 2355-2363. 10.1177/1747021817741800. Green open access

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Abstract

Nonverbal vocalisations such as laughter pervade social interactions, and the ability to accurately interpret them is an important skill. Previous research has probed the general mechanisms supporting vocal emotional processing, but the factors that determine individual differences in this ability remain poorly understood. Here, we ask whether the propensity to resonate with others’ emotions—as measured by trait levels of emotional contagion and empathy—relates to the ability to perceive different types of laughter. We focus on emotional authenticity detection in spontaneous and voluntary laughs: spontaneous laughs reflect a less controlled and genuinely felt emotion, and voluntary laughs reflect a more deliberate communicative act (e.g., polite agreement). In total, 119 participants evaluated the authenticity and contagiousness of spontaneous and voluntary laughs and completed two self-report measures of resonance with others’ emotions: the Emotional Contagion Scale and the Empathic Concern scale of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index. We found that higher scores on these measures predict enhanced ability to detect laughter authenticity. We further observed that perceived contagion responses during listening to laughter significantly relate to authenticity detection. These findings suggest that resonating with others’ emotions provides a mechanism for processing complex aspects of vocal emotional information.

Type: Article
Title: High emotional contagion and empathy are associated with enhanced detection of emotional authenticity in laughter
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/1747021817741800
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/1747021817741800
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Affective empathy, emotional authenticity, emotional contagion, laughter, emotional vocalisations
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10062859
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