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Author Topic: Laughter and Storytelling evolved to calibrate our Social Morals  (Read 1829 times)

Offline adriaanb

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Social emotions like shame, pride, envy and respect help us overcome the prisoner dilemmas we encounter in group living. We are all equipped with these emotions that can steer our behaviour. But social rules can differ enormously over time and from group to group. We can function just fine under any set of rules, as long as we are in tune with the rest of the group. So we can't be taken advantage of and we don't make costly social errors. This means we have to constantly calibrate our social sensitivities to those of the group.

Evolution has selected for a liking of listening to social narratives, because in a stone-age setting they would expose us to the vocal reactions of approval and disapproval of the people around us. The laughter or anger we hear makes us aware of the social boundaries and influences how we think ourselves, we mirror the emotions we feel around us. Because when it comes to social morals, it doesn't pay to be different. So with much of storytelling, it isn't about the story, it is all about the vocal reactions of the group. They get us in tune with the group and the group in tune with us.

But then we automated the 'storyteller in middle of the group', with a TV set that we often watch on our own. People can watch almost the same storyline in drama and comedy again and again, it is their social brain that makes them do it. But without the vocal reactions of our group, much of it is has become a waste of time. The brain never anticipated being fooled by electronics.

You see why watching comedy without the studio laughter is so difficult. We actually get the message that what we are seeing shouldn't be deemed funny because nobody else is laughing.

To read more about this:
newbielink:http://adriaanb.blogspot.com [nonactive]

See my other posts for some more ideas, i would love to hear if they make sense to anyone.


 

Offline BenV

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I can't stand watching comedy with canned laughter, but I certainly agree that storytelling is culturally significant, and almost certainly has evolutionary significance.
 

Offline adriaanb

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Canned laughter is a poor substitute for real audience reactions. Most comedies have replaced the tape with an actual studio audience. But that doesn't change the idea that you need to hear other people to actually join in the laughter. You have to be fooled into thinking you are part of a group and that that group finds it hilarious.

« Last Edit: 12/09/2008 17:57:11 by adriaanb »
 

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