• Question: Why do we laugh?

    Asked by lani to Chris, Emily, Martin, Natalie, Tamsin on 26 Mar 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Martin Coath

      Martin Coath answered on 26 Mar 2010:

      Another great question!

      What is interesting is that Chimps (and other primates) have a call which is a bit like laughing but indicates friendship, or lack of threat. It makes them feel comfortable with eachother. It may be related to that.

      I have to go to a meeting just for half an hour now – so check back for more info in a bit!

      By the way – just before I go. Laughing is VERY good for you so you should do lots of it!

      Right – I am back now!

      I guess because I am a neuroscientist I should give you an answer that involves bits of your brain 😀

      This is really hard and people have worked on it for quite a long time and haven’t come up with a totally convincing answer. Laughing certainly gives us a reward. No – honestly we reward ourselves for laughing – we produce chemicals in our brain that make us feel better called “endorphins”.

      So the real reason we laugh is simple if we don’t get too much into details. Because we want to get on together by sharing a joke, and because it makes us feel better.

      Here is one of my favourite jokes!

      What is the difference between a rabbit and a car tyre? They are both made of rubber (except the rabbit).

      OK I am crazy but I hope you laughed a bit with me.

    • Photo: Chris Cooper

      Chris Cooper answered on 26 Mar 2010:

      Oh – what a good question Iani.

      Off the top of my head:

      I assume it is related to breeding sociability. It is way of communicating and bonding in groups for social animals. So monkees laugh as well. I wonder if it was originally part of a warning that prey might be coming that then changed in the process of evolutionary time.

      Having done a bit of research on the web it seems that no one knows much more than me! So my guess wasn’t too bad after all.