Laughter is an incredible experience. When it genuinely happens it has the power to change the complexion of an entire day, or at the very least the moment in which it occurs. Whether we laugh in reaction to something comical we see, an experience we share or reminisce about or we laugh for no reason at all, laughter is usually pretty hard to complain about.
But why exactly do we laugh? And where did this commonly had experience come from? Dr. Robert Provine has been studying the social and neurological roots of laughter for over 20 years, and this video gives you a bit of insight on some of what he has found.
Check it out:
We Are Programmed To Laugh A Certain Way
As Dr. Provine states in the video, aside from vocal or other minor differences, we as humans are in large part programmed to all laugh in a certain way. The structure we typically follow is that of a pulsing pattern with short exhalations. On the surface this may sound crazy, especially since I’m sure we all have those one or two people that we’ve encountered with the most ridiculous sounding laughs imaginable, that it seems that there is no way that we laugh similarly to them. But when we really break it down and think about it, the general structure in which the majority of all laughing seems to follow is naturally quite similar to one another. To me this serves as a great example of the interconnectedness that we all share with one another on this planet. It’s pretty cool to think that one of the most enjoyable aspects of the human experience is something that we all experience in a similar manner, even when the triggers are completely different and unrelated to one another.
Social Laughter Versus Solitary Laughter
Another part of the video that really caught my interest was the difference that Dr. Provine pointed out between social and solitary laughter. In the video he states that social laughter is 30 times more frequently experienced than solitary laughter. To me this comes as no surprise, especially since pretty well all of the funniest moments I can recall from my life thus far have always been mutually experienced with at least one other person.
The fact that the relationship between individuals is more commonly the trigger of the laughter versus an actual joke was also another interesting point to be made. So much credit, and deservingly so, is given to performers who are able to make audiences laugh, but a lot more should also be given to the connections that we make with others in our lives and how much joy those connections can bring us.
The Potential Danger To Laughter
Just as laughter can be a powerful tool in brightening up a day, laughter can also be a powerful tool used either in manipulation or to put down another individual or group. This was recently exemplified here in Ontario, Canada through the recent Provincial Election that took place. Representatives from all parties took their turn at using “humour” to poke fun at the shortcomings of their competition in hopes of steering the general consensus in their direction.
As funny as judgement of another experience can be at times, it’s best we remember to always be respectful in doing so. Aside from that, let’s keep on laughing and enjoy the wonderful experience for what it is.