Some Curious Facts About Laughter

Some Curious Facts About Laughter
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Laughter is considered an evolutionary conquest that only chimpanzees, orangutans, and humans have achieved. It’s believed to be a kind of cry of triumph when an adversary is defeated. In fact, experts indicate that there’s always a hint of aggression in laughing, since it represents, in one way or another, reaffirming ourselves over others.

We laugh in enjoyable situations but also in stressful ones. However, even if a laugh is fake, it encourages positive feelings and emotions. Therefore, laughing is considered to be a way of improving mood and, at the same time, strengthening the immune system. Here, we’re going to look at some other curious facts about laughter.

The time spent laughing is time spent with the gods.”

-Japanese Proverb-

African American woman smiles at sunset
Laughter favors the release of endorphins, substances related to the feeling of well-being.

A healthy practice

Laughter is a natural medicine. A study conducted by the University of Oxford (UK) discovered that there’s a correlation between laughter and tolerance to physical pain. It’s because laughing causes the release of endorphins, substances that act as natural painkillers. This is really important in some circumstances, such as the daily lives of those who suffer from chronic illnesses.

In addition, research conducted by the University of Maryland (USA) discovered that laughing favors the functioning of the circulatory system. For example, if you watch a dramatic movie, your blood vessels constrict. On the other hand, if you watch a comedy, the vessels dilate, which increases the flow of blood and oxygen throughout your body.

Another study indicates that frequent laughter extends life. In fact, it seems that laughers experience up to 40 percent fewer cardiovascular problems than those who don’t laugh so much. This means that they have a life expectancy that’s four and a half years longer than average.

Psychological well-being

Laughter is healthy both physically and mentally. When you laugh, your brain’s reward circuits are activated. It increases the release of hormones associated with your well-being. In other words, even if it may seem obvious, laughing makes you happy.

Laughing is a relaxing act that produces a feeling of release, especially when you laugh genuinely and out loud. As a matter of fact, the effect of laughter on the brain has been compared with that produced by meditation and sleep.

There’s a feeling of rest and balance after laughing. It’s also been found to improve memory. Funny memories become extremely solid in the mind, to the point where they remain fresh, even years later. Therefore, a good way of learning a lesson is by associating it with something funny that makes you laugh.

attractive man smiling
The effect of laughter is similar to that of meditation and sleep.

Other curious facts about laughter

Laughter can also be an interesting physical activity. It’s estimated that laughing out loud for ten minutes burns around 40 calories, which is equivalent to a small chocolate bar. If you did this daily, in a year, you’d lose around two kilograms. That’s something to consider when you start your next diet.

Babies first laugh inside their mother’s womb. However, this gesture is only consolidated and used as a response to pleasure or fun from around three months of age. It’s thought that children laugh about 300 times a day, while an average adult only does so 20 times. The joys of childhood!

An investigation found that you laugh more easily if you’re with other people who are laughing. Indeed, everything suggests that laughter is contagious. You’ve surely experienced the situation when someone starts laughing and you find yourself just having to join in. That’s the way laughter works.

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  • Dunbar RI, Baron R, Frangou A, Pearce E, van Leeuwen EJ, Stow J, Partridge G, MacDonald I, Barra V, van Vugt M. Social laughter is correlated with an elevated pain threshold. Proc Biol Sci. 2012 Mar 22;279(1731):1161-7. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1373. Epub 2011 Sep 14. PMID: 21920973; PMCID: PMC3267132.
  • Miller M, Fry WF. The effect of mirthful laughter on the human cardiovascular system. Med Hypotheses. 2009 Nov;73(5):636-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2009.02.044. Epub 2009 May 27. PMID: 19477604; PMCID: PMC2814549.
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  • Wang, S. (2006, 1 febrero). Contagious Behavior. Association for Psychological Science – APS. https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/contagious-behavior.

The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.