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6.5. Laughter For Growth

Laughter Trivia

  • All humans laugh, and laughter always involves a similar pattern of whooping noises. The sound of laughter is so common and familiar that it can be recognized if played backward on tape. Deaf people who have never heard a sound still make laughing noises [1].
  • The laughing noises produced by humans share many of the acoustic properties of speech, which is further evidence that laughter is hijacking the brain and body apparatus that we use for breathing and talking.
  • Adults between the ages of 18 and 34 report laughing the most.
  • In terms of quantity, there is no marked difference between laughter in men and women. Differences do exist but in sounds and acoustic features (quality). In women, laughter predominates (“ha ha ha” and other vowels). In men, unvoiced laughter is frequently alternated with voiced laughter (puffs, whistles, growls, roars) [2]. Watch Professor June Gruber from Yale University explain the research findings of Dr. Jo-Anne Bachorowski on gender differences in laughter at http://lou.pm/mwl.
  • The majority of men report that their laughter is a chuckle, and the majority of women report that theirs is a giggle.
  • Smiling is a mild, silent form of laughing.
  • Infants start to smile within the first five weeks of life and laugh at around four months [3].

Is faking laughter bad for you?

It’s important to note that while research shows that acting as if and changing your behavior first can change the way you think and feel, it also suggests that it can backfire and make you feel worse if you’re being phony or inauthentic [4]. The key is to ensure that you’re interested in changing yourself on the inside, not simply trying to change other people’s perceptions of you.

From the Laughter Wellness perspective, this highlights the importance of:

  • Creating the right context by inspiring people to “choose” and “allow” themselves to experience something that could be really good for them and has inherently no risk, rather than suggesting they “fake” or “force” themselves to do something they might not feel like doing for some alleged benefit that they might not understand, care about or relate to at this point in time.
  • Creating a safe space by quickly identifying and allowing those who do not want to participate to step out. (We’ll discuss shortly how this is done.)
  • Reminding all those who chose to participate that this activity is to be enjoyed, not endured, so no new pain! Either adapt whatever is being proposed and make it work for you or don’t do it at all if you feel any kind of inner resistance.
[1] An acoustic analysis of laughter produced by congenitally deaf and normally hearing college students: http://lou.pm/deaf

[2] Mora-Ripoll R, Ubal-López R. La risa: diferencias según género. Rev Clin Esp 2011; 211 (7): 360-366.

[3] Wild, Rodden, Grodd, & Ruch, 2003.

[4] Journal of Consumer Research, Inc. January 22, 2015. See http://lou.pm/actingasif