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

Free Clipart

Humor Psychology: The Funniest Words in the English Language

By Thomas Hills Ph.D. on December 05, 2017 in Statistical Life
What's the funniest word in American English? Okay, it's 'booty'. But why is that funny? Nobody knows.
copyright Sally Evans, rights obtained

Laugh Your Way to Creativity

By David Evans on November 08, 2017 in Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Find out how humor can boost your creativity.

Do You Know What That Emoji Means?

By Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D. on October 26, 2017 in Urban Survival
Do you know what that emoji means? Scientists look at all the possible meanings of an emoji.

15 Things To Know About Food: The Truth Nobody Tells You

Kale is overrated. Don't kid yourself. It's a fad. Next we'll be eating plankton, and they'll be telling us to sieve it through our teeth like whales. Have coffee and a bagel.

How Do We Laugh in Times of Tragedy?

By Judy Carter on October 04, 2017 in Stress Is a Laughing Matter
How do standup comics make people laugh in times of tragedy? In this article, comic Judy Carter recalls what happened in a show after 9/11
photo by Dianne Grande

Using Humor to Boost Relationship Satisfaction

By Dianne Grande Ph.D. on September 29, 2017 in In It Together
Are you using humor to boost your relationship satisfaction?

The Neuroscience of Contagious Laughter

By Christopher Bergland on September 29, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
For the first time, neuroscientists have identified why laughter is contagious.

What Steals Our Sense of Humor?

By Anneli Rufus on September 22, 2017 in Stuck
What if we used to be funny, then stopped? Can we bring laughter back?

30 Days of September Gratitude, Joy, Love, and Remembrance

By Rita Watson MPH on September 01, 2017 in With Love and Gratitude
With those glorious sunsets and bursts of golden flowers, September is a time to embrace our heritage, laugh often, and invite gratitude and love into our hearts.

Laughter Can Be a Double-edged Sword

The social importance of laughter is that it’s a form of communication to others. It's effect can buoy spirits or deflate them. Be careful how you use it.

Second Wedding Bridal Shower: Pictures from the Past

This is what women look like when we're really laughing, I thought. This was me, and us, all those years ago. This is me, and us, still. What a luxury.
Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

Stripping Bare (Annie-1)

By Elizabeth Young on August 25, 2017 in Adaptations
"I loved the eyes on me," she said at last, quietly.

When Your Toddler Hits You: A Script

But Sam isn't laughing because he's enjoying her pain. He's so upset that he can't cry. His laugh is letting off the tension of his upset feelings.

Stopping by Woods on a Black Fly Infested Summer Day

Just when you think you know where you've going, a black fly gets lodged in your right nostril. What to do?

How Our Screens Diminish Our Empathy

By Tim Elmore on August 01, 2017 in Artificial Maturity
A shocking video was recently taken by a group of teens as they watched a man struggle and drown in a local pond. The body of Jamel Dunn was not found for five days.

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.

10 Routines That Will Strengthen a Parent-Child Relationship

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

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.