If you’re one of those people who can’t stop laughing when your best friend stumbles and falls, you must be wondering why this behavior, which may seem a bit inappropriate, is a bit problematic.
Laughter is one of the most interesting human behaviors that scientists have been trying to understand for many years. And today is World Laughter Day.
This special day, celebrated on the first Sunday in May every year since 1998, aims to remind everyone of the positive effects of laughter on health.
So why do we mortals suddenly burst into laughter, even at the most inopportune times?
What does science tell us about laughter?
“Is that also science?”
In his article for BBC Future, David Robson spoke with neuroscientist Sophie Scott from University College London, who has been researching the subject for many years. Scott looks at the science of laughter from a different angle, through human relationships, identities and sound.
In his 2015 TED Talk, Scott said laughter leads to misunderstood human behavior. However, his research has not always been endorsed by his colleagues. “This pile of paper looks like trash and will be thrown away if you leave it here. Is that science?” He found a written note.
Ironically, Scott is now on the “Is this science too?” He organizes stand-up shows with his T-shirt.
As Scott tells Robson about his research, he shows a video of a nearly naked man falling into a frozen pool. In the video, his friends around him are seen laughing at the man who first tried to stretch and then jump into the pool, but was in a tough spot as the ice didn’t go away. broken. “As soon as his friends realize there’s no blood or bone flowing, they involuntarily start laughing out loud,” Scott points out.
So why do we burst out laughing even though the person in front of us is suffering? Why is laughter contagious?
Although she started her career researching the human voice and what it says about who that person is, it was research in Namibia that inspired her to work, showing that laughter is one richest vocal tics.
Previous research has shown that different cultures can detect 6 emotions from people’s facial expressions, such as fear, laughter, surprise, disgust, sadness, and happiness.
Scott wondered what our voice suggested in this regard. Namibian Indians and Britons were asked to listen to each other’s audio recordings and rate the emotions these voices represented. In addition to the 6 emotions accepted in the international scientific community, relaxation, victory and satisfaction have also been included in the research.
The most easily recognizable emotion in both groups was laughter. Scott says participants were able to immediately distinguish laughter from other positive emotions.
“Most laughter is not caused by humor”
The more Scott studied the results, the more fascinated he became with the complexity of laughter.
For example, he realized that most of the laughs were not related to humor:
“People really think they laugh at other people’s jokes, but we find that the person who laughs the most in a conversation is also the one who talks.”
Stating that he now sees laughter as a “social emotion” that brings us together and connects us, Scott continues:
“When you laugh with someone, you show them that you like them, that you agree with them or that you are in the same group.
“Laughter is an indicator of the strength of a relationship.”
This may explain why this laughing virus is not usually transmitted to those around them when couples laugh at each other’s humor.
As Scott says, when we say, “I really like this person because he has a great sense of humor,” what we really mean is, “I like him, and I Shows it to him laughing when he’s there. »
According to Scott’s research, laughter can be one of the main ways to maintain good relationships. For example, it is seen that couples who can laugh at each other can get rid of tension more quickly after a stressful moment or a fight and their relationship lasts longer.
Previous research has also shown that people who laugh together over funny videos are more willing to share personal information with each other.
Likewise, the deplorable state of the man who fell into the frozen pool and injured himself was able to bring his friends together.
Scott explains, “It’s interesting that his friends started laughing right away. I think they just want him to feel better because he fell.”
Robin Dunbar from the University of Oxford also revealed in a study he published earlier that laughter is associated with an increase in pain threshold, and that endorphin, a hormone known to strengthen social bonds, may increase the pain threshold.