Laughter is mainly about relationships. We live in a society that tends to isolate and divide people.

Laughter improves communication

Social benefits of laughterLaughing together can greatly improve cooperation and empathy between people of different cultural backgrounds. It fosters better communication, which leads to a less confrontational approach in tense situations and a change from individual competitiveness to team cooperation. Voluntary simulated laughter in particular is most beneficial for very socially and culturally diverse groups thanks to its universal and inclusive nature, because it means that they can all join in and develop a sense of belonging.

The English comedian John Cleese said, “I’m struck by how laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance, any sense of social hierarchy when you are just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy.”

Laughter improves romance

Laughter is usually an indicator of family vitality and healthy couples. Laughter is very attractive at the interpersonal level, especially for women.

Men use much more humor and laughter when it comes to discussing sensitive health issues. They also prefer women who laugh at their wit.

In women, laughter would be more associated with greater social support in relationships and as a tool to cope with stress. According to research, they tend to prefer a man with a sense of humor. (Read more.)

Laughter promotes person-to-person bonding

A research paper suggests that 80% of our laughter occurs during everyday comments in everyday social situations and only acts as social signals of goodwill and friendship. (Read more.)

Robert Provine, a neurobiologist who studies laughter, with help from three graduate students, went to places such as shopping malls and eavesdropped on more than 1200 conversations. They noted who was speaking, who was listening, who laughed and when, and whether the speaker and listeners were female or male. They found that the person speaking laughed 46% more than the listeners. Furthermore, the response to the speaker depended on the speaker’s gender. People, whether male or female, laughed more readily in response to a male speaker. The researchers observed that laughter rarely interrupted speech. Instead, laughter came at the end of a phrase, much as punctuation follows a written sentence. They also found out that it is up to 30 times easier to laugh in a group than on your own.

Relevant studies

Here is a good place to start:

  • Laughter and Smiles in Hominids: Laughter and smiles promote social relationships and are essential in the development of cognitive and socio-emotional skills (Davila-Ross & Dezecache, 2021).
  • Social Context and Laughter Interpretation: Laughter's role in social interaction includes promoting affiliation, developing cooperation, and regulating competitive behaviors (Curran et al., 2018).
  • Laughter's Role in Learning and Health: Laughter builds relationships, enhances performance, and stimulates physiological systems that decrease stress hormones (Savage et al., 2017).
  • Shared Laughter and Short-Term Interpersonal Consequences: Shared laughter promotes relationship well-being through increased perceptions of similarity (Kurtz & Algoe, 2017).
  • Laughter as an Indicator of Affiliation: Colaughter is a universal indicator of relationship quality and plays a crucial role in human cooperation (Bryant et al., 2016).
  • Shared Laughter and Relationship Well-Being: Shared laughter is positively associated with relationship quality, closeness, and social support in romantic couples (Kurtz & Algoe, 2015).
  • Laughter and Subsequent Social Rewards: Laughing with another person predicts greater intimacy and positive emotions in subsequent social interactions (Kashdan et al., 2014).
  • Laughter and Pain Threshold: Social laughter is linked to elevated pain thresholds, indicating its role in social bonding and communication (Dunbar et al., 2012).

Related links

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