February 25

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Man on the Street: The Science of Laughter

Here at Marriott Alumni Magazine we like to put into practice the topics we write about. Whether it’s a food trend or tips on business travel, we want to see how it works. In that spirit we’re trying out a study mentioned in our Winter 2014 issue to see if it’s true: people find comics to be funnier while holding a pen in their mouth, forcing the muscles into a smiling position. We went out in the Tanner Building to test it, armed with a box of pens and a couple of funny YouTube videos.

People did laugh more when they had a pen in their mouth (although they may have just been happy because they were getting a free pen). Our study was not the most academic or accurate, but luckily we have professors who can do real studies. Ryan Elder, a marketing professor at the Marriott School, specializes in advertising imagery and understands the way people think and how they react to certain stimuli. “The idea is that our thoughts and our bodies are really interconnected,” he says. For an inside look at his research and the factors that convince us to snag a hamburger or buy a mug, read the article, “Side Effects.”