A large, multi-lab replication study has found no evidence to validate one of psychology’s textbook findings: the idea that people find cartoons funnier if they are surreptitiously induced to smile.
But an author of the original report—published nearly three decades ago—says that the new analysis has shortcomings, and may not represent a direct replication of his work.
In 1988, Fritz Strack, a psychologist now at the University of Würzburg, Germany, and colleagues found that people who held a pen between their teeth, which induces a smile, rated cartoons as funnier than did those who held a pen between their lips, which induced a pout, or frown. Strack chose cartoons from Gary Larson’s classic 1980s series, The Far Side.
But as part of a growing trend to reproduce famous psychology findings, a group of scientists revisited the experiment. They describe the collective results of 17 experiments, with a total of nearly 1,900 participants, in a paper published on 26 October in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.
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