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3 Ways Laughter Is Important

Laughter is a uniquely human expression that’s an important piece of the communication puzzle. Laughter usually indicates amusement, although for some countries, such as Japan, laughter can also be a response to confusion or embarrassment. Recent studies have shown that by paying attention to laughter, we can actually make some distinctions about human relationships.

It’s Different Between Friends & Strangers

Because of the spontaneous way that laughter occurs it is an uncontrolled “reflex” and therefore an unusually honest expression of mood and social connection for most people. It’s been discovered that the way we laugh with friends, family, and other people we are close to is actually different from the way we laugh with strangers or in less familiar groups.

And in tests where people evaluated the laughter of others, results showed many people could actually tell when two people had a close relationship and when they didn’t know each other very well strictly by observing and listening to laughter. In other words, laughter can help us recognize connections between people.

Laughter Can Be Real or Fake

Laughter is roughly divided into two types. There is spontaneous laughter, which is the natural type that happens unexpectedly when a joke is experienced or a comedic event happens among friends, and there is volitional laughter, which is a more forced, controlled contribution for mingling with strangers in conversation at parties, in an attempt to be polite or blend in.

As with the type of laughter that can be discerned by listeners in to understand which people were more closely connected or familiar with each other, spontaneous and volitional laughter can also be judged by people. It was actually discovered that because of the lower, more controlled tone of volitional laughter, it could always be identified when played back to people as a noise being made by a human, whereas certain types of spontaneous laughter, because of their higher pitch, could sometimes be mistaken for an animal noise.

Laughter as Social Tactic

Laughter, it has been theorized, is an essential tool for integration and socialization.

Laughter, it has been theorized, is an essential tool for integration and socialization. It is a lubricant of sorts that can help people to better interact with others, especially strangers, for the first time. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the importance of laughter for socializing is just how quickly it can be learned by others. In experiments, it has been shown that our nearest relatives, primates such as Chimpanzees, instinctively learn to laugh around humans if they spend enough time interacting with them. Chimps recognize the social value of laughter and use it to fit in better, just as humans do.

With people, laughter can also be a gauge of honesty. If you can tell the difference between a spontaneous laugh and a volitional laugh, you may have a much better chance at accurately gauging a person’s behavior.

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