Robert F. Lynch and Robert L. Trivers
How does self-deception affect the appreciation of humor and laughter? Fifty-nine undergraduates at Rutgers University (33 females, 26 males) were videotaped while watching a stand-up comedian for 28 min. Positive emotional expressions associated with laughter were analyzed for short sections of the act (total: 8 min or 14,400 video frames) and were scored for each subject using the facial action coding system (FACS). Participants who scored lower on a self-deception questionnaire (low self-deceivers) laughed significantly longer and more intensely than those who scored higher on the questionnaire (high self-deceivers). This was true when corrected for measures of impression management, extraversion, mood and how much a person laughs in their everyday life. If self-deception evolved to deceive others and laughter is a hard to fake signal of preferences, then suppressed laughter by self-deceptive individuals may serve to mask ones preferences. More generally since humor often involves seeing life or a person from a novel angle and self-deception tends to reduce such angles, self-deception will naturally tend to reduce ones sense of humor.