Why Do We Laugh?


Every human has the ability to laugh.  It is one of the few sounds that are recognizable throughout different cultures and languages.  In fact, our ability to laugh precedes our ability to talk!  It is instinctual, unconscious, and universally recognizable, but why do we do it?


From an evolutionary standpoint, laughter got its beginnings from panting.  In apes, a close human relative, panting is produced in play situations such as friendly fighting, tickling, and chasing.  Laughter signals friendly intent, even in humans. Long ago, laughter may have been used to bond humans together and show a sense of community. This would have given those who laughed together an advantage, because those humans then had the protection and resources of friends.


Now we laugh less for survival reasons, but still to show bonds.  We laugh at "jokes" to show that we also share the same implicit beliefs, views, and experiences. In an experiment by Robert Lynch, 59 participants watched a thirty-minute comedy special by Bill Burr, a comedian known for his controversial jokes on race and gender.


Lynch and his researchers then evaluated the reactions of the participants using the Emotional Facial Action Coding System to analyze the jokes that participants laughed sincerely.  Participants also took an implicit association test to measure the strength of association between two objects such as women and cooking and man and career. 


The results were that participants laughed at jokes if they expressed beliefs that were true to the individual.  That is, the participants laughed at the jokes if they shared the same beliefs as the comedian telling the joke.  This can help us recognize people who we will get along with very easily and can indicate who we may want to be friends with.


Personally, I know that my friends are the people who can make me laugh the most.  I consider one of the more important factors when beginning friendships, and especially in maintaining friendships, being able to laugh together is important to bond. 









I have always believed that laughing is a natural response and had never considered the bigger implications of it. It is interesting to consider that laughter is a bonding trait that we have always used. The article below discusses how the boss or person in control of the situation is more likely to laugh. It would be interesting to see how people are influenced by their own laughter as well as the laughter of people around them.


It is interesting to look at laughter as a way to communicate and share interests, not just as an involuntary response. I guess it makes sense that so many women say that they look for men who have a good sense of humor and can make them laugh.

I too, laugh the most around the people I feel the most comfortable with. I think its interesting that the research you found suggests that there's reason behind that. I think that we should laugh as much as possible. This article on WebMD says that laughter is good for your health. So hopefully if we keep the laughs going with our friends, we'll help ourselves stay healthy too! Here's the article: http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/give-your-body-boost-with-laughter

I have definitely notice that it's a good way to share your beliefs! I have definitely been around people who have told "jokes" and laughed at themselves and I sat there thinking "that was rude". It's really easy to see what crowd you'll fit into with how accepting you are of the way they joke around. Here's a link to a website that's about the different kinds of sarcasm people have! It's interesting because it's a part of our sense of humor that only specific people pick up on, while the others can sometimes get defensive.


Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?
We have all heard the expression, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." My question is, does eating…
Accents are weird
I have always wondered why people have accents. Why cant I look at a Spanish word, with all the…
Creatine will make you bigger
Creatine monohydrate is an extremely common dietary supplement for people who are trying to build muscle. In this blog…

Old Contributions