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People Will Like You If You Make Them Laugh

Anybody can tell a joke, but not everybody can make you laugh.

Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
Source: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Anybody can make you cry, but only certain people can make you laugh. Laughter releases endorphins, which make us feel good about ourselves and others. This good feeling creates a bond between two people and imbues a sense of togetherness in groups. The Golden Rule of friendship states that if you make people feel good about themselves, they will like you—and laughter does just that. It makes you feel good about yourself and the person who triggered your laughter.

Laughing and Likability

Laughter provides a good indicator to determine if a woman likes a man. A woman who laughs at a man’s jokes, no matter how lame they are, signals that she likes him. In fact, the more times a woman laughs at a man’s jokes or joins in laughter with him, the more she likes him. Men do not experience the same phenomenon when women make them laugh; however, men are attracted to woman who laugh at their jokes.

Laughter Signals Intelligence

Women view men who make them laugh as more intelligent than those who don't. Researchers speculate that constructing humor takes a high degree of intellectual prowess, especially when producing sophisticated humor such as satire, double entendre, and malaprops.

Laughter Leads to Better Long-Term Relationships

Couples who share laughter experience more satisfying long-term relationships. Laughter keeps a relationship fresh and relieves the boredom that sometimes accompanies long-term relationships. In general, happy couples share more humorous moments than unhappy couples do. They also tend to provide a more enriching environment for their children, who tend to be happy and well-rounded. Humor can break tension in demanding situations, but avoid using humor during stressful or serious relationship discussions; in such situations, humor is often seen as a means to avoid serious discussion and can be detrimental to relationships.

The Humor Trap

Humor doesn’t tickle everyone’s funny bone. What is funny to one person may not be funny to another. Many times what you think is funny is not perceived as funny when you say it out loud, and misunderstood humor can quickly kill fledging relationships. The safest humor is self-deprecating humor: When you make fun of yourself, few, if any, people are offended. Self-deprecating humor should not impugn your character, but focus on your unique behaviors, experiences, or missteps. Disclosing missteps that don’t demean your character can add to your likability because minor mistakes humanize a speaker.

Humor Levels the Relationship Playing Field

It’s true, attractive people are seen as more likeable. They are perceived as more intelligent, they get more attention, and they seem to get all the breaks. Fear not: If you are less attractive, you can still develop your ability to make others laugh. Laughter levels the relationship playing field and can even give you an edge—because, again, people like people who make them laugh. And while anybody can tell a joke, not everybody can make someone laugh.

For additional tips and tools to initiate, maintain, or repair relationships, refer to The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People.


Cohan, Catherine L. & Thomas N. Bradbury. 1997. Negative life events, marital interaction, and the longitudinal course of newlywed marriage. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,73, 114 –128.

Grammer, K. & Eibl-Eibesfeldt, I. (1990). The ritualisation of laughter-In: Natürlichkeit der Sprache und der Kultur (Koch, W.A., ed.). Brockmeyer, Bochum, p. 192-214.

Marc M., & Dunbar R. I. (2008). Naturalistic observations of smiling and laughter in human group interactions. Behaviour, 145, 1747-1780.

Weisfelda, G. E., Nowak, N. T, Lucasa, T., Weisfeld, C. C., Imamog, O., Butovskayad, M., Shene, J., & Parkhill, M. R. (2011). Do women seek humorousness in men because it signals intelligence? A cross-cultural test. Humor 24, 435-462.

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