Smiling and the Negotiation of Humor in Conversation


Gironzetti, E., Attardo, S., and Pickering, L. (2019). Smiling and the Negotiation of Humor in Conversation. Discourse Processes 56 (7), 496-512.




This study investigates the function of smiling intensity as a non-discrete marker of humor in conversation. The smiling intensity of participants in 8 conversational dyads was measured relative to the occurrence of humorous and non-humorous events in the conversation. A relationship was found between higher smiling intensity and the occurrence of humorous events across conversations, thus confirming the value of smiling as a marker of humor. The results show that the occurrence of humor correlates positively with an increase of smiling intensity relative to the baseline of the conversation and it is foreshadowed by a localized increase of smiling both generally and when humor is predictable. Moreover, during humorous events, participants displayed framing smiling patterns, often preceded or followed by smiling accommodation or inverted smiling gestures, which are representative of the conversational dynamics of the dyad and the ongoing negotiation of meaning.