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The glee of ‘ee,’ the woe of ‘oh’

And more surprising insights from the social sciences

The glee of ‘ee,’ the woe of ‘oh’

How do you keep a positive perspective on things? Say “Hee hee,” not “D’oh!” In an experiment, people who repeated the vowel sound of a long “e”—or maintained a similar mouth shape by holding a pen in their teeth—rated cartoons as funnier than people who repeated the vowel sound of a long “o”—or maintained a similar mouth shape by holding a pen with their lips pursed around it. In another experiment, people who were asked to create new words created words with more long-e vowels after watching a positive-mood-inducing film clip, but created words with more long-o vowels after watching a negative-mood-
inducing film clip.

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