Age and gender differences in smiling and laughter: the power asymmetry hypothesis retested

Article


Robertson, L. and Russell, Y. 2016. Age and gender differences in smiling and laughter: the power asymmetry hypothesis retested. Human Ethology Bulletin. 31 (3), pp. 5-14. https://doi.org/10.22330/heb/311/005014
TypeArticle
TitleAge and gender differences in smiling and laughter: the power asymmetry hypothesis retested
AuthorsRobertson, L. and Russell, Y.
Abstract

The power asymmetry hypothesis puts smiling and laughter into the context of relationships, in particular the inequalities between people within interactions. As a means of appeasement, junior members are expected to display higher than usual rates of deliberately affiliative gestures towards senior (dominant) counterparts (compared to rates towards non-senior counterparts). Previous researchers found these effects for males but not females. In a new observational study, we compared rates of smiling and laughter within male-male and female-female dyads in bars and restaurants in London UK. Age was used as a proxy for social status (older presumed dominant). Individuals within these focal dyads were classified in two ways: sex, and estimated age (binary category using age thirty-five as a dividing line). Instances of smiling and laughter were classified as either deliberate or spontaneous. In total, 150 dyads were observed. Some power asymmetry effects were found for male-male but not female-female dyads. Younger males displayed higher rates of deliberate laughs towards older males and older males displayed more deliberate smiles towards other older males. Females displayed more affiliative behaviors when interacting with peers compared to older counterparts. These results partly replicate earlier studies and provide support for power symmetry effects amongst males only.

LanguageEnglish
PublisherInternational Society for Human Ethology
JournalHuman Ethology Bulletin
ISSN2224-4468
Electronic2224-4476
Publication dates
Print30 Sep 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited04 Oct 2016
Accepted30 Jul 2016
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.22330/heb/311/005014
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.22330/heb/311/005014
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