Is smiling during humor so obvious? A cross-cultural comparison of smiling behavior in humorous sequences in American English and French interactions

IntercultPrag

Priego-Valverde, B., B. Bigi, S. Attardo, L. Pickering, and E. Gironzetti. 2018. “Is smiling during humor so obvious? A cross-cultural comparison of smiling behavior in humorous sequences in American English and French interactions.” Intercultural Pragmatics 15(4), 563–591.

https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2018-0020

 

 

 

ABSTRACT
The present article is part of a larger cross-cultural research project on speaker-hearer smiling behavior in humorous and non-humorous conversations in American English and French. The American corpus consists of eight computer-mediated interactions between English native speakers, and the French one consists of four face-to-face interactions between French native speakers. The goal of the study is twofold: first, we analyze the link between smiling and humor, focusing on the degree of synchronicity of smiling and the intensity of smiling during humorous and non-humorous segments; second, we investigate the various targets mobilized in conversational humor. The results obtained comparing the two data-sets show a correlation between the presence of humor, an increased smiling intensity, and an increase in the synchronized smiling behaviors displayed by participants. However, the two corpora also differ in terms of the displayed smiling behaviors: French participants display more non-synchronic smiling when humor is absent and more synchronic smiling when humor is present. Regarding the various targets of humor (Speaker, Recipient, Other person, Situation, Speaker+Recipient), while their distribution is different – it is more evenly distributed in the French data – the way in which these are mobilized in order to become humorous is quite similar.