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Why Do We Smile And Laugh


Category: Psychology

Autor: antoni 04 April 2011

Words: 522 | Pages: 3

Facial expressions are a way of expressing an individual's emotions and a smile can express more internal feelings of an individual. A smile is associated with feelings of joy and happiness and laughter is always associated with pleasure. Other than speech, facial expressions of this kind can help communicate feelings to others. Different types of facial expressions are a part of human behaviour in which they can be explained in terms of their biological, sociologically and functional basis. The purpose of this essay is to establish the function of smiling and laughter in human behaviour and provide an analysis of evolutionary explanations to underpin whether they has an adaptive value. To begin with Nikolas Tinbergen offers a framework for explaining animal behaviour offering a multi dimensional approach when looking at animal behaviour by integrating all the components, i.e. biologically and so on.

Darwin (1872) the father of evolutionary theory along with Ekman (1973) (cited in: Mehu, Little and Dunbar,2008) suggests that smiling is a universal display stemming from evolutionary roots.(Andrew, 1963, Van Hooff, 1972) According to Segerstrale & Molnar (1997) facial expressions such as smiling symbolize the emotional state of a person, i.e. expresses how they are feeling. Smiling has been linked to being an adaptive trait which influences how attractive you are perceived by the opposite sex and according to Mehu, Little and Dunbar (2008) smiling enhances attractiveness. However, it is in fact males who focus on attractiveness when looking for their potential mate (Buss, 2006), thus suggesting that smiling can be considered important when selecting a mate choice and can be seen as an adaptive value of sexual selection. Research conducted by Otta et al (1996) offers evidential support that smiling is important within mate choice, which would be reflected through the ratings of attractiveness being affected by smiling. (Mehu, Little and Dunbar 2008). Otta et al study (1996) established that women were considered more attractive if they had smiling faces in comparison to neutral faces. The study involved 330 participants from Brazil in which they were expected to judge a photograph by its attractiveness in which it alternated between neutral and smiling faces. The photograph participants were shown had three different age ranges too. A 7 point likert scale was used to make judgments on attractiveness.

One Psychologist which has had a great impact and has formed the basic framework into understanding animal behaviour is Tinbergen (1963). He proposed a four question level of analysis which addressed the very question; why do animals behave the way they do? The four categories were based upon Huxley's work in which she identified three categories: causation, survival and evolution. Tinbergen (1963) merely expanded on her work by including a fourth category ontogeny in which the four questions were devised into two types: proximate and ultimate categories of animal behaviour. Proximate being how animals behave and the ultimate being the reasons why animals behave the way they do. Therefore, Tinbergen explanation of animal behaviour withholds a great deal of significance, in that without fully comprehending the meaning of it we are unable to understand the true nature of animal behaviour. (Bolhuis,Giraldeau, 2005)

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