Smiling, Laughing and CryingLaughing and crying are the most
demonstrative of emotional behaviors. The simplest case suggests that we
laugh when were happy and cry when we are sad; however, laughter and crying
are not always so simple. These behaviors are versatile and are utilized by
different, even contradictory programs. Humans can cry when they are happy
and laugh when they are afraid. Laughter is associated with humor. Humans
will laugh when a story is truly funny but are more likely to laugh to
relieve tension and as a gesture of group cohesion. Laughing, like yawning,
is contagious. Humor (or what passes as humor) often takes the form of
aggressive, insulting or distasteful remarks and stories. As long as you
keep laughing, aggression is not so threatening, but if the storyteller goes
too far with his insults, the laughter stops and is replaced by indignation
Smiling is little laughter and can be a subtle expression (the
Mona Lisa). Smiles may be the prelude to laughter and smiles are a
reassuring greeting. People who like each other generally smile on sight and
laugh easily if they stop and talk. Smiling usually means everything is OK,
but there are exceptions. An embarrassed person may smile awkwardly in an
effort to avoid criticism or rebuke. The wicked witch may smile sweetly as
she invites you in for tea.The skilled interrogator may smile in
a friendly manner while describing the painful consequences of not telling
him the whole truth; his smile suggests that he can be your friend, if only
you would cooperate.
Peacock [i] suggests that
there are sex differences in smiling behavior in the in the U.S. Women smile
eight times a day more than men and women smile at men more than men smile
at women. Women smile 89 percent and men 67% of the time in social
encounters. Forty-five percent of women rated smiling number one in a list
of attractive physical characteristics in men. Peacock claims that women who
smile too much in business are seen as less authoritative, less powerful and
less businesslike. Peacock says:" This impression is straight from the
primitive brain. In primates, smiling is a sign of low status and signals
appeasement, even apprehension (in apes, it's called the "fear grin"). Too
much smiling in human interaction says, I'm harmless, I won't assert myself.
For a good cringe, listen to some of the advice dished out in 1996 to
political candidates by the Women's Campaign School at Yale:
1 Look happy (to do so try thinking happy thoughts).
2. Control emotions, i.e. anger and tears.
blouses with long sleeves offer a suitable feminine touch.
4, It's more blessed to listen than to say.
smiling and smiling and smiling and smiling... “
Crying can be a discrete display of tears or a dramatic social event with loud sobbing,
cries and wailing. Dramatic crying is designed to stop business as usual.
The crier gets the attention they need to feel better. There is a curious
need for some sadness and certainly most crying to be concealed from public
view. Boys are taught that real men don’t cry and girls, despite a more
permissive license to cry, remain shy to cry in front of strangers.
Crying is a display of helplessness and vulnerability and the intended
audiences are people who care about you and can help. Crying in front of
strangers, especially a large group of strangers may attract the wrong
response from people who will try to exploit your vulnerability. Crying
is an effective display only if it unusual. A repeat crier will often
be shunned or scorned by the same group that initially offered comfort. Most
parents have a high tolerance for their own children’s repeated crying, but
most kids learn quickly that that tolerance may not be offered by other
[i] Mary Peacock. Women Who Smile Too
Much. Abstracted from http://www.Women.com July 1999.
Emotions and Feelings
- This book investigates the for-me-ness of
experiences, using psychology, neuroscience and philosophy.
Everyone has some idea what emotions and feelings are but their exact nature
is elusive. We can begin by noting that emotions and feelings are not the same.
Generally, humans are ignorant of internal processes
and invent all manner of imaginary and irrelevant explanations to explain
feelings. The term “emotion” is best used to point to animal and human behavior.
There are a small number of primary emotions and variations that involve
mixtures of emotional displays feelings and behaviors. Joy, anger, fear and pain
are pure emotions. Other, more complex and derivative experiences act as
interfaces to emotions. Love, jealousy and hate are not emotions. These are
descriptions of complex interactions and evaluations that involve a range of
feelings and interface to true emotions some of the time. Euphoria is the benefit of being in love. Sadness and anger are the cost
of being in love. Jealousy, like love, is another complex of cognitions,
feelings and emotions that exist to monitor and regulate close relationships.
The absence of emotional display is highly valued in polite society. Humans have
advanced toward civil and productive social environments that are emotionally
neutral. Emotional neutrality is a requirement for acceptable behavior in school
and work environments.
Emotions and Feelings is intended for a well-educated smart reader who is
interested in Human Nature and the daily experience of humans in groups. The author is
Stephen Gislason Both Print
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