Two studies tested the hypothesis that occupying a position of low power increases the likelihood of laughter, presumably as a means of gaining friends and supporters. In Study 1, participants laughed more at an interviewer’s jokes when the interviewer controlled their cash rewards than in the absence of monetary contingencies. Study 2 found that low-power participants (manipulated again by expecting that someone else would decide their cash rewards) laughed more than high-power participants even when they were alone. Low power also increased laughing at a fellow low-power coworker. These findings suggest that low power motivates interest in making friends and hence increases behaviors that promote social bonding.
Source: “What’s So Funny About Not Having Money? The Effects of Power on Laughter” from “Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin”
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