Why we laugh

Why we laugh. The answer seems obvious. We laugh when we perceive something funny.The obvious answer, however,  is not correct most of the time.  

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Why we laugh is not always in response to jokes and humor, says Roberts R Provine, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland Baltmore County. 

Provine should know. He has conducted a number of studies of laughter and authored the book 'Laughter a scientific investigation.' One of his central arguments is that humor and laughter are not inseparable.

Provine did a survey of laughter - he and some graduate students listened in on an average conversations in public placesd and made notes. And in a survey of 1200 'Laugh episodes,' he found that only 10-20% of laughs were generated by anything resembling a joke.

The other 80-90% of comments that received a laugh were dull non-witticisms like: I'll see guys later, It was nice meeting you too. So why the laughs?

Provine argues that it has to do with the evolutionary development of laughter in humans.Laughter predates speech by perhaps millions of years. Before our human ancestors could talk with each other, laughter was a simpler method of communication.

It's also instinctual. Infants laugh almost from birth. In fact, people who are born blind and deaf still laugh. So we know it's not a learned behavior. Humans are hardwired for laughter. Because laughter is so ancient, it/s much less precise than language.

"Laughter isn't under our conscious control," says Professor Provine. don't choose to laugh in the same way that we choose to speak." If you ever had an inopportune laughing fit - in a lecture, during a theater play, or at a funeral - you know that laughter can't always be controlled.

Couples who laugh together stay together

Robert Levinson, psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, invited couples into his lab and asked each partner to discuss something that irritated him or her.

The couples who tackled the stressful situation with laughter not only felt better in the moment, but had higher levels of relationship satisfaction and stayed together longer than couples who didn't crack a smile.

Laughter burns calories

This is no joke! Just 10-15 minutes of laughing a day can burn up to 40 calories according to a Vanderbilt University study Researchers determined that the increase in heart rate and oxygen consumption during these funny moments boosted the calorie burn.

Laughter is the best medicine

Multiple studies have pointed to the health benefits of laughter. Research at Linda Loma University showed that laughing improved the memory of adults in their 60's and 70's.

University of Maryland researchers found that hilarious movies improved the function of blood vessels and increased blood flow in a group of 20 to thirty-year olds.

Other research shows that laughing can improve immunity, help regulate blood sugar levels, improve immunity, enhance memory, and improve sleep.

You are more likely to laugh around others

If you're laughing , you're far more likely to by be surrounded by others according to research laughter expert Dr. Robert Provine. The critical trigger for most people is another person, not a joke or funny movie.

In most cases, the laughter followed a casual comment or only slightly humorous one, which indicates that the person is more important than the material in triggering laughter.

Laughter is contagious

The saying :laugh and the world laughs with you" is more than just an expression. Laughter really is contagious! The sound of laughter triggers people,upon hearing the laughter, to automatically smile or laugh.

Laughter is attractive

Research found that women laugh 126% more than men in cross-gender conversations, with men preferring to be the one prompting the laughter.

In a review of more than 3700 newspaper personal ads, Dr. Robert Provine found that women were 62% more likely to mention laughter, including seeking a partner with a sense of humor, while men were more likely to offer humor in their ads.


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