Laughter: 6 things you may not know

By Efrosini Costa

Laughter: 6 things you may not know
Everything you thought you knew about laughter is wrong, here is why...

1. Laughter has nothing to do with jokes

While you may think humour and jokes are at the root of most of your laughter, it seems they’re not.

A study by the University of Maryland found we actually laugh most when talking to our friends, in fact were 30 times more likely to laugh at something when were with other people than when we are alone.

Interestingly, within these conversations we often laugh at statements and comments that do not seem remotely funny. laughter is more a form of communication than a reaction.

The science is showing us that laughter has less to do with jokes and more to do with social behaviour which we use to show people we like and understand them.

2. Laughter really is contagious

Brain scans reveal that laughter is in fact contagious. Even when participants had there brains scans – not a particularly funny event – their brains were responding to the laughter by preparing their facial muscles to react and join in.

The more someone shows a contagious response to laughter the better they are at telling whether a laugh is real or forced.

3. Laughter will not make you thinner

Despite many online claims that laughter is good for your health because it helps you burn more calories than going for a run, this is not true.

Laughing does raise your expenditure and heart rate by 10-20 per cent – helping your burn an extra 10-40 calories for every 10-15 minutes – you would have to laugh solidly for up to three hours to burn off a packet of chips.

4. Laughter makes you more attractive

Can you laugh your way into bed with someone you like?

A study of personal ads says that both men and women specified a sense of humour more frequently than factors like intelligence, profession, education and even sex drive.

Another study found we rate strangers more and more attractive if they laugh with us. So will leave you to do the maths on that one!

5. Laughter is funnier from people you know

Laughter encourages laughter, but familiarity and our expectations are still often are the heart of laughter.

People find jokes funnier if they are told my a famous comedian, even on paper this is true!

6. Laughter, deliberate or staged, your brain can tell

Not only does your brain automatically tell the difference between staged laughter and deliberate laughter, but it helps us understand others emotions.

Listening to staged laughters sets off greater activity in the area of the brain called the anterior medial prefrontal cortex.

This proves that we try to comprehend even the deliberate laughs even when not instructed to do so.


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