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Laughter influences social bonding but not prosocial generosity to friends and strangers

Dunbar, RIM; Frangou, A; Grainger, F; Pearce, E; (2021) Laughter influences social bonding but not prosocial generosity to friends and strangers. PLOS ONE , 16 (8) 10.1371/journal.pone.0256229. Green open access

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Abstract

Humans deploy a number of specific behaviours for forming social bonds, one of which is laughter. However, two questions have not yet been investigated with respect to laughter: (1) Does laughter increase the sense of bonding to those with whom we laugh? and (2) Does laughter facilitate prosocial generosity? Using changes in pain threshold as a proxy for endorphin upregulation in the brain and a standard economic game (the Dictator Game) as an assay of prosociality, we show that laughter does trigger the endorphin system and, through that, seems to enhance social bonding, but it does not reliably influence donations to others. This suggests that social bonding and prosociality may operate via different mechanisms, or on different time scales, and relate to different functional objectives.

Type: Article
Title: Laughter influences social bonding but not prosocial generosity to friends and strangers
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0256229
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0256229
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Science & Technology, Multidisciplinary Sciences, Science & Technology - Other Topics, OPIOID RECEPTOR AVAILABILITY, BETA-ENDORPHIN, HALF-LIFE, UNMYELINATED AFFERENTS, PAIN THRESHOLD, OXYTOCIN, SYNCHRONY, BEHAVIOR, SYSTEM, VASOPRESSIN
UCL classification: UCL
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 > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10134203
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