Coherent with laughter: Subjective experience, behavior, and physiological responses during amusement and joy

David R. Herring, Mary Burleson, Nicole Roberts, Michael J. Devine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Scopus citations


Emotion research historically has adopted a fairly homogeneous view of positive emotions. The aim of the current study was to explore how two positive emotions, amusement and joy, differ in subjective, behavioral, cardiovascular, and respiratory characteristics. Thirty-nine participants viewed two film clips, each selected to elicit amusement or joy. As predicted, participants reported more amusement, showed more positive facial expressions and laughter, and exhibited less heart rate deceleration and a larger increase in respiratory amplitude in response to the amusement clip than in response to the joy clip. In addition, subjective, behavioral, and physiological indicators were more closely related in amusement than joy, which was largely attributable to laughter during amusement. The current study adds to a growing literature suggesting the importance of adopting a more nuanced conceptualization of positive emotion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-218
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011



  • Amusement
  • Cardiovascular
  • Coherence
  • Joy
  • Laughter
  • Positive emotion
  • Respiration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)

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