All About Laughter

Laughter just might be the most contagious of all emotional experiences. What's more, it is a full-on collaboration between mind and body. Although laughter is one of the distinguishing features of human beings, little is known about the mechanisms behind it.

Scientists do know that laughter is a highly sophisticated social signaling system, helping people bond and even negotiate. Interestingly, most social laughter does not result from any obvious joke.

Laughter is not limited to communicating mirth. It can be triggered by embarrassment and other social discomforts.

Although laughter is not generally under voluntary control, yukking it up has numerous health benefits: It releases tension, lowers anxiety, boosts the immune system, and aids circulation. Contagious convulsions are anything but frivolous.

Recent posts on Laughter

Six Science-Based Reasons Why Laughter Is The Best Medicine

By David DiSalvo on July 22, 2017 in Neuronarrative
Laughter is a potent drug with the contagious power of a virus that conveys a slew of benefits for the mind and body.
wikimedia commons, Lizzy Borden

Graduate Student's Revenge (Corrections in Red)

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on June 27, 2017 in Rabble Rouser
On the inherently exasperating nature of relationships between graduate students and their advisors, and the even more exasperating nature of scientific publishing in psychology.

Ten Habits to Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Child

Every interaction all day long is an opportunity to connect. Slow down and share the moment with your child: let him smell the strawberries before you put them in the smoothie.

Nobody Does It Better

Humor, which clashes with the intensity of romantic love, can be valuable in romance. Is humor always good in love? Is it useful for seduction? Should we tell jokes during sex?

Childrearing Tips for Modern Families

By Kimberly Key on June 14, 2017 in Counseling Keys
Research reveals what successful families do that increase resilience & functioning in kids--a must-read for any families in crisis or that suffer from addiction

Happiness and Your Immune System

Positive emotions are good for our health. Research shows that happiness increases the effectiveness of the immune system, including protecting us from the common cold and the flu.

Measuring Happiness: How Can We Measure It?

Can positive psychology researchers really measure happiness? Here are five ways they try—and some of the surprising and interesting findings that come from measuring happiness.

Peekaboo: Joy Might Just Surprise You

Remembering to laugh is essential. It can’t make the darkness go away, but it does admit the light.

Don Rickles, the Master Roaster, Dies at 90

By Izzy Kalman on April 16, 2017 in Resilience to Bullying
Don Rickles, one of the greatest roasters of all time, died last week. In today's culture, he could easily be considered a bully, but in reality he promotes the antidote.

Workplace Humor Has Some Unexpected Benefits

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on March 30, 2017 in ExperiMentations
The proper use of humor increases status, confidence and competence in the eyes of others. When humor backfires, the damage can be irreparable. New research shows us how.

The Science of Schadenfreude

By Joseph A. Shrand M.D. on March 27, 2017 in The I-M Approach
Sometimes we laugh at someone else’s misfortune. We’ve all done it, even if we aren't proud of it. But once we know why we do what we do, we can choose to do something else.

10 Ways to Find More Happiness

Happiness can be as confounding as Indiana Jones looking for lost treasure. Just when you think you have a clue, some giant boulder comes rolling toward you.

The Three Basics of Friendship

By Lydia Denworth on March 03, 2017 in Brain Waves
Recognizing your true friends can be surprisingly simple. There are some fundamental elements that every close bond shares.

Tickling Fetishism Explored

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on March 02, 2017 in In Excess
Arguably one of the most obscure paraphilias is knismophilia (sexual arousal from tickling). This post explores tickling fetishes by examining online resources about the behavior.

Good Fun

By Bernard L. De Koven on February 28, 2017 in On Having Fun
We must make the distinction. Not just fun, but good fun. Not just laughter, but laughter that comes from the heart, from the depths of the soul, echoes of our shared humanity.

Is Your Smile Getting You Into Trouble?

We tend to believe that a simple smile is enough to grease the social wheels of life. New research shows when suppression may be the better, and kinder, part of valor.

The Lost Origin of Coulrophobia, the Abnormal Fear of Clowns

How serious an issue is an abnormal fear of clowns? Where did the term coulrophobia even come from? The answer may be lost to time, locked away behind a wall built by brain trauma.

Playfulness Is Freeing - Even More Freeing Than Play Itself

By Bernard L. De Koven on February 23, 2017 in On Having Fun
It's the freeing kind of play. It's not just playing. It's the way of being that sets you and all with whom you are playful free. Yes. Playful being. That kind.

What Happens if You Love a Flirt?

Does flirting have a place in ongoing relationships or should it be limited to relationship initiation?

7 Tips for Embracing Love While Keeping Oxytocin in Check

By Rita Watson MPH on February 16, 2017 in With Love and Gratitude
The way to finding love is by giving love.

Having Fun Being Funny

By Bernard L. De Koven on February 07, 2017 in On Having Fun
In some games, victory comes not from being best, but from having the most fun. Together.

Happiness Needs an Invitation, Misery Barges In

Joy and pleasure are, instead, excellent guests and, as such, they wait for an invitation. You have to open the door to life’s best moments; you have to invite them in.

Carrie Fisher: Turning Problems into Punchlines

By Judy Carter on January 06, 2017 in Stress Is a Laughing Matter
Carrie Fisher was able to turn mental illness into a career. In so doing, she helped so many “come out” about their own secrets. Can laughter really help heal mental illness?

Could Online Dating Help You Find the One?

By Donna Barstow on December 29, 2016 in Ink Blots Cartoons
Dare to step inside these raging waters.

10 Reasons Why We Never Forget Our Childhood Bullies

By Barbara Greenberg Ph.D. on December 17, 2016 in The Teen Doctor
What we all remember about our childhood bullies.
“Chimpanzee_selfie” by Frontierofficial/CC by 2.0

The Evolution of Humor: From Grunts to Poop Jokes

By Christopher A. Robert Ph.D. on November 23, 2016 in Humor at Work
The human capacity for humor distinguishes our species from others. Humor is the result of millions of years of evolution.

A Laughing Matter

By Holly Parker, Ph.D. on November 19, 2016 in Your Future Self
Comedians deserve deep, heartfelt gratitude. They’re not just funny. We actually need them.

Love Is Stronger Than Hate – How to Be Strong, Kind, & Laugh

By Preston Ni M.S.B.A. on November 13, 2016 in Communication Success
7 keys to keep yourself positive and strong during these challenging times.
lawprier/Flickr, CC by 2.0

The Healing Power of Laughter in Death and Grief

If humor is a part of living, than why should it not be a part of dying?

3 Fascinating Discoveries About Laughter

By Todd B. Kashdan Ph.D. on October 24, 2016 in Curious?
Let us travel where scientists seldom tread—everyday, lowly human behaviors. Laughter. What myths do you hold? What truths are you ready to discover?