The complexity and phylogenetic continuity of laughter and smiles in hominids

Marina Davila Ross, Guillaume Dezecache

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Abstract

Laughter and smiles are often, but not always, associated with positive affect. These expressions of humans help to promote social relationships as well as the development of cognitive and socio-emotional skills and they may have a positive impact on health and well-being, hereby covering a selection of fitness-relevant benefits. Both laughter and smiles of positive affect also occur early in human development and across cultures, suggesting deep roots in human biology. The present work provides an evolutionary reconstruction of the evolution of human laughter and smiles of positive affect in form and function, based on the principle of maximum parsimony. According to the Complexity and Continuity Hypothesis, human laughter and smiles of positive affect must have evolved within the context of play from ancestral species. Furthermore, ancestral ape laughter and their open-mouth faces must already have been complex in form and function and changed over time via categorically different phylogenetic pathways to become characteristic, effective, and pervasive behaviors of everyday social interactions in humans.
Original languageEnglish
Article number648497
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2021

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