Is Most Laughter Genuine?

It's said that if you laugh, the world laughs with you, but it turns out that it might actually be the world that's making you laugh in the first place – and not necessarily in a funny way.

Research suggests that over 80% of laughter isn’t actually in response to funny things, but rather to ease social interaction.
Research suggests that over 80% of laughter isn’t actually in response to funny things, but rather to ease social interaction.

According to research, only about 20 percent of all laughter is in response to something humorous. The rest of the time, the laughter is feigned in order to be comfortable in a social situation. Research overseen by University of Maryland neurobiologist Robert Provine also found that of the laughter that's "real," much of it occurs in playful conversation, not after a joke. And in another not-so-funny finding, Provine learned that speakers laugh nearly 50 percent more often than listeners, begging the question, who's acting funny? It also turns out that you are 30 times more likely to laugh when you are around other people than when you're alone.

What's so funny?

  • When you laugh for real, you are exercising, in a way; about 10 to 15 minutes of laughter burns roughly 50 calories.

  • While babies laugh approximately 300 times a day, adults do it only 15 to 30 times daily; women laugh more frequently than men.

  • Lab studies have found that couples who can laugh in stressful situations are more likely to stay together.

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    • Research suggests that over 80% of laughter isn’t actually in response to funny things, but rather to ease social interaction.
      Research suggests that over 80% of laughter isn’t actually in response to funny things, but rather to ease social interaction.